Copyright battle over fans’ chants

Stephen Russell from You Think We Print with his empty shelves after trading standards took his merchandise
Stephen Russell from You Think We Print with his empty shelves after trading standards took his merchandise
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A BUSINESSMAN is at the centre of a copyright row with Blackpool Football Club for selling merchandise featuring the fans’ chants.

Stephen Russell was shocked when Trading Standards raided his shop, You Think We Print on Condor Grove, Blackpool, and confiscated his stock.

Mr Russell, 40, from central Blackpool, said: “They confiscated about 54 items. I had t-shirts with logos on that I designed back in 2004 – one is a Tower logo with waves underneath and the words Tangerine Army and the other one says Seasiders in a flag.

“They said I wasn’t allowed to sell them because Blackpool FC had the copyright.

“But how can they copyright a fans’ chant? Everyone should be able to use it, it was made up by the fans. They are part of the history behind it.”

The raid happened before the Seasiders’ Wembley final against West Ham – meaning Mr Russell lost more than £1,000 through lost stock and having to change orders.

Mr Russell, who has been based on Condor Grove for two years but worked on-line previously, added: “I don’t agree with it.

“It’s annoying.

“I lost all my stock. People had put orders in for Wembley and it put me three to four days behind my orders. It was so hectic and I had to work 20 hour days to catch up. It drove me insane. I was just chasing my tail.

“It can do a lot of damage a stunt like that.”

Mr Russell says he has changed his designs slightly since the raid and uses phrases such as Barmy Army and BFC instead.

He claims he is now in talks with Trading Standards and the football club about what merchandise he can sell in the future.

He added: “They have apologised now – they said they didn’t realise I was just a one man band, they thought I was mass producing.

“Trading Standards have been good and I’m waiting to hear back from them and Blackpool Football Club about it all.”

Blackpool FC say they are prepared to take action against people infringing trademark legislation.

Richard Wild, head of retail for Blackpool FC, said: “Blackpool FC have registered trademarks and anybody infringing them, in any way, can expect the club to take the necessary action to have them ceased.

“We operate closely with Trading Standards and anybody producing merchandise that infringes on trademarks can expect action to be taken against them.”

A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “A small amount of football merchandise items was confiscated from a property on Condor Grove. We are currently in the process of investigating this incident.”