King Cnut (2018) Movie Script

didn't really fit in that well.
And I saw at school
enormous injustices going on.
You know, there were people
that were academically
who sort of had their own click.
There were people
that were brilliant at sport,
and there were people
that were cool.
And I didn't
fit in to any of these,
and it was a really odd time
for me trying to work out
what the hell?
And it was like
Lord of the Flies.
You seemed to be bullied
when you're in the first year
by the year above,
and when you were
in the year above,
you bullied the person below.
And I couldn't understand this,
and it just seemed so wrong.
But I kinda got by and was
left alone and wasn't bullied
because I wore funny t-shirts
all the time.
And everybody thought,
"Ah, he's quite an amusing kid."
And this is one of my
favorite t-shirts that I wore
which is
"Ignore This Person."
And I wore this t-shirt
for about five years,
and my father didn't stand on
my left-hand side
for about five years.
MAN: Right here? Set.
Does the hoodie look all right
and everything?
My name's Dave Griffith
and I'm a stand-up comedian
and owner of King Cnut Clothing.
I was born on
a Friday the 13th in June.
And I was born
one minute to midnight
and the doctor asked my mother
would she like the 14th
to be put on
the birth certificate?
And my Mum said,
"Don't be so ridiculous."
And I've had bad luck
ever since.
They used to do
the little plays...
Oh, yeah.
...these two.
At our grandparents house.
Yes, do you remember?
And, you know,
they've been doing
a very serious little act...
Oh yeah, and David
would come over...
And David would come in and
spoil the whole thing.
No, go away. You're ruining our play.
Yeah, that's right.
Hi, my name's Rosie,
and I am David's big sister.
My name's Angela,
and I'm Dave's mum.
And I'm Mandy,
and I'm Dave's other sister,
also big.
No, no, no.
Can I say that again?
And we used to tell him lots
of stories about schooldays,
and he would end up, um,
adopting those stories
for his own
and talking to other people
as if he went to the same school
as us in the end, yeah, yeah.
But often when he adopted
stories like that
he would, um, embellish them a
little bit, shall we say...
Yeah... And make them
his own, make them funnier,
um, but sometimes get caught
telling the same stories
back to the original person
who told him the story.
Which didn't always
go down too well.
That's my story.
That happened to me.
My name's Guy Hammant,
and I know Dave
from college days.
My name's Neil Bennett.
Dave is a very good friend
has been for over 20 years.
Um, and he's a great source
of constant entertainment.
Is that right?
Past the test.
MAN: Yeah.
Some people thought I was mad,
and some people thought,
this is brilliant.
You're gonna do
what you wanna do.
I wrote some stuff
which I thought was quite funny.
Um, went to a pub
that had an open mic night,
tried it there, did all right.
Um, I now look back
at that material
and realize
it was absolute crap,
but initially, um, you know,
you're up against
other crap people,
so it seems quite good.
It was good crap
in compared to the other crap.
It was okay.
I had an operation in Royal
Parks about four months ago
just to have my sinus's done
and started worrying
what has happened
to the Royal Parks
'cause while I was in the ward
there was a sign on the wall
it said,
"Thieves are operating
in this area."
I was really worried...
I don't know what's
happened to that place?
And then one day
I was traveling with a friend
of mine, Neil Bennett,
and we were going across Fox Hill
Bridge on the way to Newcastle
and I saw the first
French Connection billboard.
It was massive.
It said...
"French Connection F.C.U.K."
And I turned to Neil and I said,
"That'd be so much funnier
if that was C.N.U.T."
And we both laughed
like mad about it,
and then, uh,
we just drove on to the gig
and about an hour later
Neil turned to me and he said,
"You know what? That's really
good." I said, "What?"
Because I have so many things
running through my head
and nothing's usually very good.
He went, "That C.N.U.T. thing
is brilliant."
It is the first mick take,
that poster has only been up
this week,
and you've done the best mick
take that possibly could be done.
You've taken it
to the next level.
I was like, "Really?" He said, "Yeah.
You should get a t-shirt made of it."
No, I... I may well
have been in the car.
Yeah, but, you know,
this is like, 14, 15 years ago.
I don't remember things
I said in the car last week.
So the next gig was my first
ten minutes at The Comedy Store,
and I had a t-shirt made with
"CNU French Correction."
And I came onto the stage
and everybody started laughing,
everybody was clapping,
and the reaction was brilliant
and it was the best gig
I ever had
for the first ten seconds
'cause the rest of the gig
I died horribly,
but the t-shirts
went really well.
One of the other comedians said,
"Oh, I'd really like
one of those t-shirts.
I'll buy one from you."
I said, "I'm not selling them.
I'll make you one
and give it to you."
And then other people
started asking,
"Where'd you get that t-shirt?
Can I have one?
And I realized that maybe
I could start
selling these t-shirts.
'Cause you don't make much
as a comedian.
And I had some screen printed
and I started giving them out
and selling them,
and I started a website that was
But then I received a
letter to stop it.
DAVID READING: "Dear Sirs. We act of
behalf of French Connection Limited.
It has recently come
to our clients attention
that you are operating a website
advertising and selling t-shirts
such t-shirts
feature the slogans
with the word place such as
cnut and wnaker
clearly influenced by our
client's prominent trading name
and registered trademark fcuk."
Also, I had wnaker
'cause I thought that was
the obvious second choice.
If not, everybody would
want to wear cnut
and wnak
as the shorter version.
DAVE READING: "Your purpose
is clearly to take advantage
of our client's
goodwill and reputation.
As a result, our client is
suffering damage to its goodwill.
A loss of control
over his reputation
and the erosion of strength
of his own domain name.
We look forward
to hearing from you.
Yours faithfully,
Davenport Lyons."
I mean, your heart sinks
when you get
one of those letters.
Oh my God. They're accusing
me of stealing their idea.
They're accusing you, you know,
accusing me of, um,
being some sort of criminal
and they're
threatening to sue you.
I'm gonna have to get a lawyer
to have a look at this
because I haven't got a clue
what the hell is going on.
And it sounds so threatening.
I tried to be a rock star.
I went to live in London
for a year and starved.
I still do have a band, yeah,
yeah, absolutely.
We played on Saturday night.
It's probably the best band
I've ever been in.
I was recommended by someone.
Um, he was a one-man band.
He was cheap.
He was in Slough,
So it just seemed perfect.
My name is Duncan Thomson.
I'm one of the partners at
Aston Bond Law Firm,
uh, and we're, uh,
wonderful firm of solicitors.
Yeah, letters like that, um,
are designed to be scary.
They're designed
to make you stop doing
what the writer does not
want you to carry on doing.
So they tend to be very formal
and they tend to setout,
to begin with,
uh, the legal position,
then they setout
the factual position,
then they'll say
what they want you to do
within what period of time,
and then there'll be
a consequence
if you fail to comply
within the time limit.
And I was like,
"I haven't actually
infringed on their trademark."
I've put C.N.U.T.
I've used "French Correction."
It looks nothing like F.C.U.K.
and French Connection.
But you have to remember that
companies like French Connection
without their trademark,
without the goodwill
and the brand, they're nothing.
They're just another clothing
manufacturer and seller.
So they will fight
tooth and nail,
as with any other well known
household brand holder,
to protect the brand
and protect the image.
They were saying, you know, give us
the website, give us the t-shirts.
That's not theirs.
I paid for that.
They wanted everything
as if it was theirs
even though it didn't say
"French Connection"
or, um, "F.C.U.K."
I could understand
if it said F.C.U.K.
or French Connection.
I don't see
trademark infringement
in the designs of the t-shirts,
but I can see
a far better argument
for trademark infringement
in relation
to the name
of the website itself.
French Correction is, you know,
is... is a mick take
of "French Connection,"
so whatever you do
as a mick take
is gonna be seen as slightly
close to that, um, other brand.
It was nothing to try and take
their business away from them,
um, their
multimillion-pound business
being taken away by me
is absolutely ridiculous.
This is a letter from a lawyers
called Davenport Lyons.
Davenport Lyons
were a large London law firm,
um, who would have offices
in many countries.
116 offices.
They would have hundreds,
if not, thousands of lawyers...
4,500 people.
...uh, almost infinite
Um, a very well known,
big city law firm.
But I noticed in their letter
the French Connection's lawyers
all 4,500 in 116 offices
had made a terrible mistake,
which for a comedian
was comedy gold.
It said, "Our client's advertising
budget for the UK alone exceeds
3.5 pounds per annum."
I do remember our conversation
and I said,
"Dave it's obviously
3.5 million pounds not 3.50.
So I phoned my lawyer and said,
Let's write back and say
my advertising budget
is twice as much as theirs.
Who are they?
Why are they writing me?
I've never heard of them."
Probably the words I were to use
would've been something like,
"Don't make a daft point."
But Dave's always
looking for the comedy angle.
My lawyer said, "No."
I thought that they'd been
totally unreasonable,
ridiculously heavy-handed.
I didn't think
I'd done anything wrong.
It was supposed to be a mick take.
That was it.
I didn't see any confusion
and they had a lot of money,
every letter was costing money,
and at some point,
I was beginning
to run out of money.
So I had to decide
what I was gonna do.
Dave was a more or less
penniless comedian...
Stand-up comedian...
Uh, quite funny, but no cash.
French Connection,
multimillion pound business,
uh, to all intense
and purposes, uh,
they have endless resources.
The can bury you in paper.
Not a fair fight.
Because I'd made them
and I owned them.
And if, uh, I'd rather burn them
than have them
get something for free.
What Dave did was he
effectively discontinued
used of the website
Um, French Connection appeared
to be satisfied with that,
um, and that was the end of it.
All right, so, um,
the first brochure
comes through the door..
I'd better say
French Connection brochure.
So the first French Connection
poster comes through the door...
What did I say?
MAN: Poster.
What a load of rubbish.
So the French Connection...
Okay, so...
I'm ready.
All right.
So I started to investigate
French Connection.
I'd go into their shops,
and I'd go and have a look
what the hell they were selling.
I signed up
to their newsletter...
Their email newsletter...
I signed up
to the, um, brochure.
I wanted to know
who the hell was telling me
to give them things for free
and really using
bullying tactics,
and what sort
of people were they?
And what were they producing?
I was studying the enemy
as I saw them.
And when the first
brochure turned up
and I had a look through,
I couldn't believe my eyes.
Because I saw a t-shirt
that had a logo on that looked
exactly like the Ford Logo
with the F.C.U.K.
in the Ford writing
in a big oval shape.
And I was like,
"Hang on a minute.
They're saying the me
that I'm copying
an idea of theirs
when they are copying
other people's designs.
So just to make sure,
I asked a few people what logo
they thought this t-shirt was,
and all of them said
it was Ford.
So out of the kindness
of my heart
I phone Ford
and told them of this terrible
infringement that was going on.
And Ford were like, "Yeah, that
is our logo in the t-shirt.
And I said, "Well, are you
gonna have it withdrawn?"
And they said, "Well,
French Connection
were quite a cool company
so the logo had a bit of kudos
being, you know, F.C.U.K.,
and it might actually
help Ford."
Until I said,
"It looks to me like it's saying,
'Fuck Ford, drive a Mercedes.'"
Then they suddenly realized in
their heads that oh my God.
It says fuck.
Yeah, fuck Ford.
Rather than it being
good for Ford,
they realized
it was bad for Ford,
and that's when they decided
that they were definitely
gonna withdrawal it.
Within a week,
every single t-shirt
that had the Ford Logo on
was withdrawn from
French Connection's shops.
Every single brochure
with the Ford Logo t-shirt
picture in was withdrawn.
So I was like, "Oh, great.
I've managed
to get one withdrawn."
I was feeling, you know,
a bit better about myself
that I've managed
to get a bit of revenge
for the hypocrisy
that was going on.
But then the next
brochure turned up,
and I couldn't believe
what I saw.
It was a picture
that clearly had
a person with a t-shirt,
and it had the Pepsi Logo on it
with "fcuk" in it.
And I was like, "Oh my God.
I just can't believe
that they've told me
not to do something that they are
unbelievably blatantly doing,
not just once,
but now twice."
So out of the kindness
of my heart I phoned Pepsi
and told them
of this terrible infringement.
And they didn't need telling
"Fuck Pepsi, drink Coke,"
'cause they have enough people
who've accidentally
drinking Coke instead
of Pepsi as it is.
And they had that t-shirt
withdrawn within a week.
Well, I felt a sense
of achievement
that I'd got the Pepsi one
withdrawn as well,
and it was, you know,
I was thinking, "This is great,
but I've got to get on
with my own life."
I've done so much work
getting this withdrawn
that I'm hardly doing any comedy,
I'm not doing anything else.
But then the next
brochure turned up.
A t-shirt that was infringing
clearly on the Mars brand.
So out of the kindness
of my heart
I phone Mars and they say,
"It's not a fuck a day,
it's a Mars a day."
And they had it withdrawn
They were actually
furious about it.
Yeah, um, it went...
It started with
"Cnut Attitude,"
um, because, uh, was already taken,
and I just thought "Attitude"...
Having a bit of a attitude...
Was, was a good word.
But then I discovered that
people can spell "attitude."
So there was a huge problem.
I studied history at university,
and was sort of doing 11th
Century English history,
um, was reading
these old text where
King Cnute was spelled C.N.U.T.
It was Neil
that really started it.
He said, "Look.
You realize that there is
a king called King Cnute?
I was just sharing with him
sort of what I'd spent three
years at university learning.
And I just thought, you know,
maybe, originally,
not enough people knew about it
to make it so people
could find my website,
but, in fact,
quite a lot of people
do know about King Cnute.
And we thought
it was a lot cooler
that there really was a person
that was a King of England
and that would be another
sort of selling point.
So I then changed
to "King Cnut."
We were taught that his named
was spelt C.A.N.U.T.E.
But, in fact, the original
spelling was C.N.U.T.
The C.A.N.U.T.E.
is the phonetic spelling,
which means is how
we say "Canute."
That's how we pronounce it.
But I recon
that they changed his name
from C.N.U.T.
to C.A.N.U.T.E.
because everybody
kept calling him King Cun...
King Cnute, um, was known
probably in his own lifetime
and certainly
very soon afterwards,
as the Emperor of the North.
He was the King of England
from 1016 until 1035.
He was also King of Denmark
and King of Norway.
Um, he was king
of small parts of Sweden.
He has the King of Scotland
submitted to him as an Overlord.
Am also Kings of Ireland
and he owned the Shetlands,
Orkneys, and um,
certainly, had some influence
in Iceland as well.
By all accounts, a wise and calm
and politically very astute leader
who really, um,
gave England a solid basis
and really helped her
to establish
as a strong political
and economic force in Europe.
The story that a lot of
people know about King Cnute
is the idea of him
turning back the waves
and what happened,
if we are to believe
the stories,
is that Cnute
set his throne on the shoreline
as the tide was coming in.
People believe that this was
'cause he said he was a King
and he could
turn back the waves.
In fact,
it was completely the reverse.
What it actually was was that
Cnute was telling his subjects
"Even though I'm a King,
God is above us all."
And indeed the tide came in
and lapped around his feet.
We don't know
what was wrong with Cnute.
Um, there was no evidence,
but there appears to have been
no suggestion
as there were with other deaths
of any wrong doing.
Um, he appears
to have died peaceably.
I'm Joanna Courtney.
I'm a Novelist,
and I'm a, I suppose,
a passionate Anglo-saxonist.
I thought,
well, maybe this was one
that might not mind
because Durex
are basically about f-cuking.
The more people f-cuk,
the more...(MUMBLES)...sell.
Um, but I thought
I phone everybody else,
so I might as well phone them.
I got hold of Durex
and they said,
"Were about family planning
not fucking."
They were absolutely furious.
They were actually
one of the the ones
that were really the most angry
about having
their trademark infringed.
So they immediately took action,
and they were very appreciative
that I brought it
to their attention.
Had t-shirts with...
Why French Connection
wanted to be connected with KFC
I wasn't sure, because one's quite
a smelly food, greasy food,
and the other one is a t-shirt.
But, you know, they obviously
thought it was funny.
So I found out that Kentucky
Fried Chicken's head office
was in New York.
Uh, when I finally got through
I asked for the top person...
I was gonna say Ronald McDonald.
When I finally got through
I asked for the top person,
Colonel Sanders,
and they said that he was dead.
So they put me through
to another area
within the company
and they answered the phone
Pepsi Cola and I was like,
"Um, I'm sorry, I've phoned
the wrong people."
And they were like, "Why? Who
are you trying to get hold of?"
And I said,
"Kentucky Fried Chicken."
They said, "Yeah, we own
Kentucky Fried Chicken."
And I was like, "You won't
believe what has happened."
And they were absolutely livid.
They were like, "I can't
believe that French Connection
have infringed
on another one of our brands."
And they took action
To phone a company,
first of all,
you have to find out
where their head office is.
Then you find the number.
You get through
to the receptionist,
you explain to the receptionist
what is going on.
So then you get passed on
to maybe marketing
and they go,
"Oh, what's this about?"
And you have to explain
the whole story again.
And they go,
"Right, okay."
They're not really getting
the gist of it.
Then they'll put me through
to maybe the public
relations, um, or press.
And then finally
you'll find someone
that is actually responsible
for the logo
and the design and protection.
The person wanted to hear
what I had to say.
They then, I have to send them
a picture of the t-shirt,
um, so I'd email them
a picture from the brochure.
WOMAN: Nike headquarters.
How can I help you?
DAVE: Hello, um, I was
wondering if I could speak to
the trademark department?
The trademark...?
And do you have a name for me?
Um, as in my name or the name
of the person I need to speak to?
Um, I... I don't know
the person I need to speak to,
but my name is Dave Griffiths.
Is that, is that helpful?
Okay. There are so many
people here
that it's really difficult...
Can you tell me
it's about what short?
Right, well, there's been
a definite infringement
of the trademark of Nike.
And do you know a company
called French Connection?
Uh, no.
It's Clothing company,
Okay, I know that, of course.
And they have
the joke F.C.U.K.
Okay. And you know what that looks like?
Yeah, yeah.
Well, I'm a comedian
and I have another company
and instead of F.C.U.K.
I have C.N.U.T.
Now does that mean
anything to you?
Does it?
It doesn't mean anything to you?
No, what is it?
It's a rude word.
It's a very rude word.
I can't actually explain it.
But in English it's like
one word ruder than if I,
excuse my French, fuck.
It's actually a ruder word.
Right, but you said, C.N.U.T.
That's nothing.
That means nothing, no.
But if you change the letters
and have C.U.N.T.
DAVE: Yeah, there
was a lot of, uh,
word going round
on the circuit...
On the comedy circuit...
People were like going,
"Oh my God.
Dave's managing to get the
better of a major corporation."
It was quite a, uh, buzz topic,
I suppose at the time,
and whenever anybody saw me,
comedians that were going,
"How's it going with your
fight against
French Connection?"
And I got an article
in the Daily Mirror.
I also got an article in
The Times "Getting Shirty."
And the great thing about The Times
was that they started phoning
people like Pepsi
and Mars and Ford
and making sure
that they were with, you know,
withdrawing the t-shirts.
And what The Times did as well,
they spoke to a certain company
who were not
best pleased with me.
Which is one
of my favorite quotes.
The were beginning to find out
and know that it was me
that was doing this.
Pick it up.
I'm sorry.
No, it's all right.
I remember being filmed,
actually, once...
Whilst we were training
in the Inland revenue.
My name is Andrew Carter.
Some years ago now,
I did briefly have
an online t-shirt business,
um, and I had a bit of an
altercation with French Connection.
Right about that time, um, bumped
into Dave Griffiths in the Internet.
And now I'm here
being interviewed
as part of the film,
I understand is being made
about what happened to him.
And then, The Family Cat,
a band who was around
the time of Inspiral
Carpets contacted me.
Uh, my name's Steve Jelbert.
In the early '90s
I was a musician
in a band called The Family Cat,
uh, who were the first people
to have the stupid idea
of putting the idea of putting the
initials F.C.U.K. on a t-shirt
and selling it for money.
Um, and also, I got an email
from someone called Phil Nugent
informing me
of the fact that, um,
the Pepsi Logo T-shirts
had been withdrawn
from their shop.
"Dear Dave"...
I mean, that's what
he said originally.
All right.
I think it was probably Sparks
because I'd read a story
about somebody who, he'd started
running a line of t-shirts
that just said "No, I Don't Have
A Fucking Loyalty Card,"
and he'd sold
several hundred of these.
And I thought, "Oh, if you
come up with the right slogan,
if you come up
with the right logo,
maybe you could make
a little bit of money.
It was never more than
anything on the side.
I mean, um,
never more than, you know,
half a dozen or a dozen
t-shirts a week.
We kind of used
the F.C.U.K. thing quite a lot.
It would be the catalog numbers,
um, on the records.
It was a catalog number
on our singles after awhile,
and, uh, you know, it was a backdrop
to the target with the F.C.U.K. on it.
"I was in the states in
September 2001
and French Connection was opening a
Flagship store in San Francisco.
They bring out
arrange of t-shirts
using the logos of Pepsi,
Burger King, Mars and Durex.
It's not like
they even had any intention
of trying to pass
the logos off as similar.
The tags on the Pepsi T's
read 'Pepsi Logo Tee.'"
Um, my bestseller
for a short period of time
it was my F.C.E.K. design.
Which, um,
I would say that probably sold
as many t-shirts
as all the other designs
that I'd had put together.
Um, after it'd been selling
quite well for several weeks,
um, I thought, well, perhaps I
should try and trademark it.
Um, F.C.U.K is obviously
a very terrible pun
on Family Cat UK.
It was our merch mans flatmate
who originally mentioned it,
I think, at some point,
and, you know, suggested that we,
you know, that we could, uh,
use this dreadful joke
as some kind of, um,
signifier for the band.
"So I was surprised
when I went into work one day
and was asked to remove all of that
Pepsi Logo t-shirts from the shop floor
from the shelves
in the stockroom,
anywhere they could be found,
Our manager was livid.
He said something
along the lines of...
'Get those f-cuking t-shirts
out of this store.
I don't care if you f-cuking burn them.
Just get rid of them."
So I submitted the trademark
to the trademark organization,
the government run
patent and trademark office.
And then whilst I was waiting
for that to go through,
um, out of the blue
my mobile phone rang,
and it was somebody saying
they were a lawyer
representing French Connection
and they had seen
my application to register
"F.C.E.K." The Irish
Connection as a trademark,
and they were
going to oppose it.
I think it was Kev the
drummer just said,
"Yeah, I see that French
Connection ripped us off."
And it was just like...
And we laughed...
Because, you know,
I was just like
"Who the hell's gonna take
such a stupid idea seriously?"
Yeah, but obviously
they managed to market it
within an inch of its life.
"I did think this was something
over an overreaction.
Until he'd told me
that someone from Pepsi
had gone into one of their
stores, mystery shopper style,
and asked for a Pepsi t-shirt.
the member of staff he spoke to
had just come on shift
and had not been fully briefed
as to the days events
and duly fetched one
from the stockroom.
This little error
apparently cost the store
somewhere in the region
of 70,000 pounds.
And sure enough
a few weeks later,
I got a letter from the patent
and trademark's office
saying that my application
had been opposed
and that it was going
for a hearing.
We submitted the, uh,
our case, um, for hearing
and a few weeks later,
uh, we received a letter
from the patents
and trademark office
saying that I had been
partially successful.
Uh, and bear it in mind,
as I say,
I was selling
a half a dozen t-shirts a week.
I just didn't have, you know,
the inclination or the money
to take it forward
and I guess
from that perspective,
French connection won.
We weren't, you know, upset,
but as it became
kind of everywhere for a while,
and it just seemed to be
this weak branding exercise.
But, yeah,
the Bad Hat split up by then,
which is why there was
no point, you know,
there is no possibility
of chasing after it.
I was very appreciative
that he sent me that letter,
and I immediately wrote back
in the email saying,
"Thank you very much" and,
you know, "This is brilliant."
In the very strange moment,
um, very surreal moment
from the phone call onwards
and the letters
and the sudden realization
that on one side of the battle
was French Connection
and a a very large firm
of lawyers.
And on the other side
of the battle
was me on my own.
We got to the point
that after we split up
my father once said to me,
"Your band nearly made it."
And I went,
"Yeah, we did."
So close enough.
It was so clear to him
that they were blatantly
just copying
other peoples ideas.
I mean, including
having the tag on the t-shirt
saying Pepsi Logo Tee.
I mean, that is just
as blatant as you can get.
And what French Connection
did next was unbelievable.
They stopped sending me
my brochure.
The stopped sending me
the French Connection
Rejection hurts.
One had been coming
for several months,
the brochure would come
through the door,
then the next month.
And I knew when the next one
was coming out.
It just didn't arrive.
And then I realized
that no more emails
were coming to me and I...
You get emails
probably once every two weeks...
And there was none.
So I could tell immediately
that they'd taken me off
their mailing list.
I remembered about the brochures
not coming anymore.
I do remember that bit.
And I had to recruit
my poor mother
to sign up for the French
Connection brochure
and sign up for the email.
And I was living in Brixton
at the time
so she was forwarding
the email on
and sending me
the brochure up there.
My mother was like,
"What is all this on...
C.N.U.T... cnut stuff
and F.C.U.K. fcu"...
And I was like, "Mum, Mum, Mum,
you remember King Cnute?
That's how
it was spelled originally.
King of England 1016
tried to stop the"...
My Mum's like, "Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
King Cnute, that's right.
And what about F.C..."
I said, "Mum, Mum,
that's an acronym for
"French Connection UK."
She's like, "Oh, right."
And a month later she went, "Really
looks like cunt and fuck."
When we dance together
in the pale moon light
There was something...
DAVE: And that is Motorhead.
And I phoned Lemmy.
And Lemmy
was absolutely furious.
He said, "I'm gonna smash in
every French Connection window,
I'm gonna beat up every single
director from French Connection."
And I was like, "My God.
This is almost getting
out of control."
EVANDRO: Perfect.
Now let me, uh,
have you come back to reality.
First question.
So you are...?
And this was one
of the best days of my life
because I have been
one of the biggest AC/DC fans
ever since I was a kid.
And any band that makes millions
from song titles like,
"Let Me Put My Love Into You,"
deserves every penny they get.
So I phoned AC/DC
and they were absolutely livid.
I continue to just search
for infringement.
I couldn't stop.
Once I got all them
I just kept looking.
I kept looking in the brochure,
I kept going into the shops.
Well, actually,
I was going further and further
into getting things withdrawn.
Um, it was becoming
a real obsession by this point.
And it didn't matter anymore whether
it looked slightly like the brand.
I would, if it looked anything
like it, I would phone them.
So IBM, phoned.
Coca Cola, phoned.
Dunkin' Donuts, phoned.
And if they didn't think that they were
gonna want to withdraw the t-shirt,
I showed them
the female version.
It's amazing how fast people
that eat donuts all day move
when they saw
a t-shirt like that.
And then, a weird combination
of trademark infringement
which was the Wimpy Logo
and inside
was the McDonald's Logo.
So I phoned both.
The irony of this whole story
is that I'm actually
French Connection's
best customer.
Because if I knew a t-shirt
was gonna be withdrawn
I'd run into French Connection
and buy a t-shirt.
I sometimes bought two
or three of the same
if they're in different colors
or they had a different...
Slightly different design.
They should be very pleased
with my custom.
I've got them
to where they are today.
And the worse thing about
having all these t-shirts
out for the movie
is that, uh, I got to fold
them all afterwards.
EVANDRO: Can you do me a favor and
introduce yourself one more time?
Uh, I'm Richard.
I worked for French Connection
from mid '96 to late '98,
and I was their
in house graphic designer.
Um, I'd been working, um,
at a forecasting consultancy
in, um, in Islington.
There was one particular women's wear
designer who I got along very well with
and she'd been working freelance for
French Connection as well in house,
and they needed some graphics.
They were a successful
high-street retailer.
They were the top-end
of the market.
They'd gone from
relatively niche
to being actually quite, uh,
quite important presence
on the high-street.
Oh God, yeah, yeah. It was a
really great place to work.
Everybody there was, um,
was really good.
Really exciting place to, um,
develop new ideas.
Everyone worked really hard.
Everybody knew that it was
a good working environment.
It was a good
professional environment.
I think that it was a very
healthy environment as well.
Um, it was never about
reinventing the brand.
The brand was actually
very, very strong.
The product was very strong,
and they were going
in the right direction.
I was never asked to sit down
and rebrand the company.
It didn't need that.
Uh, my role was to make it
better, make it work better.
One of the problems
with French connection
is that it's a very,
very long word
and a bit of a mouthful,
and a big part of my job
was the t-shirts,
uh, men's and women's wear,
kid's wear.
You needed something
that was quite visually strong.
And it's, uh... it's, uh...
The good thing about t-shirts
is that they are a
low-value, high-return product.
Sell more t-shirts,
more branding,
and it's actually
advertising a brand as well.
So we needed to...
To really make that work.
The actual F.C.U.K.
literally came from
the head of note paper from fax.
We didn't have email.
Everything was done by fax.
There were faxes
all over the world
and there was a tray
of paper that said,
F.C. Hong Kong, H.K.,
F.C.N.Y., F.C. New York."
And I think that that's
just... that all it was...
And it was just a joke
in the studio.
I never thought
it would go in the shops.
Stephen saw it and liked it,
thought it was funny,
got the joke,
and he was on his way
to Littlewood
to talk about putting product
into a catalog
and they hated it,
they thought it was awful,
uh, and he'd thought
that was great.
He thought it was really funny,
came back and said,
"Yeah, we like it.
We'll do it."
Oh, it was massive.
It was, um,
partly because you could
talk about it.
I mean, when was the last time
anyone actually
talked about a t-shirt?
I think it was also summer.
It was, um, a very
accessible, easy product,
it was funny,
and it was just, you know, it
just worked really, really well.
Everything that they did in the
advertising already existed.
Either in, um, in garments
or in prints or in press.
It was already
in the public domain.
It had already...
People had already seen it
and happy for quite some time.
I can completely understand
why that mythology
for about five or six years
grew up about the,
the marriage of French
Connection and Trevor Beatie
because that was part
of the job,
and it did the stores and the
brand a lot of good as well.
Um, and I think that it was...
Beatie was credited
over and over and over again,
because you would
associate him with that
because that was
the whole point of it.
Um, I've read interviews
where he said,
"Yes, of course,
I did that."
And I've read interviews with him
he said, "No, I didn't do that."
No, I wouldn't,
well, not when I was there.
Um, I think...
Everybody in the office
when I was there
was in mid to late 20's, so we
would've been born in the late '60s.
So we would've
gone through the '70s.
We would've gone through
punk and things like that.
It was perfectly legitimate and
respectable to take something old,
rip it up, and make it
into something new.
This is, you know,
call it homage,
call it heritage,
call it pastiche or parody.
It was a good thing.
Recreating something
and making it fresh
is a positive thing to do.
It's not copying.
He wouldn't copy things.
It just didn't work like that.
It was quite virtuous.
Um, I could...
I didn't really follow it
that much after I'd left.
I could... when I would
eventually... I'd see things
that were, were close,
like, uh, just too close.
I thought, "Well, that's
actually, quite clumsy."
And, of course, you've created a
thirst for an F.C.U.K. product.
People liked it.
They got the joke.
People wanted to buy into it
and there's like, "What's next?
We want more. We want more.
We want more."
And, you know, you just had to
keep turning this stuff out.
And, um,
it's quite hard to keep it fresh
every single time.
Well, you know, uh, it's,
well, the funny thing
is I've never actually been able
to tell anybody I did it
because they don't believe you.
I... there was one occasion
about a year after I'd left French
Connection when I was working,
and I'm still working
with a retail consultancy,
and we put together, um, a credentials
pitch for quite a big job
and they pulled up
all my stuff and said,
"He didn't do that.
I know who did that.
My cousin's second
next-door neighbor did that.
This is all not true."
And people just don't believe
that there were 50 people working
behind the scenes developing this.
It really was that slapdash.
We just...
We just did it
and pulled it together.
Um, from the Cat.
EVANDRO: From the Cat.
It never happened.
I knew who they were vaguely
in the background
because I'd liked the music,
but I'd never heard them.
They had nothing
whatsoever to do with it.
It... it's just a coincidence,
a complete coincidence.
I didn't know anything about
that until years, years later.
And I completely absolutely nothing
to do with French Connection.
So antidotally,
um, uh, after I'd left,
I was told by somebody
who had actually
had quite a city position
who I was very...
Still am very friendly with...
That two or three years
before I joined the company,
the warehouse and the
wholesalers in central London
had a five a side football team,
and the team was called
DAVE: I'm not entirely sure.
I believe that he was originally
gonna call it French Collection.
Even though
it's an English company,
they thought they'd get
a bit of a cute aspire,
that they were French.
He saw, I believe the film,
The French Connection
and he liked it so much,
he thought
that that was a better name
than French Collection,
and so he called it
French Connection,
so copying the name of a film.
Other people will say
it's because he was married
to a French woman.
Um, I don't think
it really matters.
Great film.
Yeah, and as with Stephen's ex,
she was lovely.
Great woman.
The double whammy
on 20th Century Fox
was that they had
originally made the film
The French Connection.
And now...
So out of the kindness
of my heart,
I phoned 20th Century Fox
and they say,
"Is that Dave Griffiths?"
And I'm like, "Yes, it is."
And they were like,
"We've heard about you.
Are you phoning
about the 20th Century Fox
infringement by
French Connection?"
"Yes, I am."
I was like, "Yeah, this is good,
they already know who I am."
And they went,
"Well, we're not gonna
do anything about it.
We're not gonna play your game.
And you're only phoning us
for your own benefit
to get revenge on
French Connection.
So we're not gonna
play your game."
And I was like,
"So you're not gonna take your...
Remove your t-shirts
from the stores?"
"No, we're quite happy with it
because they've got
a bit of kudos for us,
and also, their models
look really good.
And so we'd be
quite happy for them
to infringe on our logo."
I started to learn
about trademark law
after I received that letter.
The guy lost the case
of the French...
And I knew that if one company
allows another company
to a fringe on their logo
and they don't protect it,
it opens the floodgates
for other companies
to infringe on their logo.
Would they be okay with that?
Because they were okay
with French Connection
infringing 20th Century Fox,
so it must be okay for me to
infringe their trademark as well.
And I sent them a picture
of the model
that I was gonna use
to model the t-shirt.
So every single t-shirt
was withdrawn
and every brochure
with the picture
of the fantastic model in the
20th Century fcuk t-shirt
was withdrawn.
Oh, goodness.
That's a very
difficult question.
Um, I don't know.
I think it's just happened
over the years,
and I think
it's just become more...
More obvious as the years
have gone on, really.
But I can't remember,
I mean, I don't remember
that when
he was younger, really.
I think that's become a thing
now since that really,
of latter times.
But I don't know. I couldn't like
to say when it... when it was.
I would say yes.
I would say he's quite
obsessive about things, yep.
Not everything.
Certainly not about tiding up.
Yeah, I'm totally obsessed,
but I'm totally obsessed
with any injustice.
So doesn't matter
if it's French Connection
or the government in...
Bosnia or whatever. Pfst.
He definitely has a
personality which, uh,
uh, yeah,
Dave's personality is, uh,
it can be one single track,
so he'll get something
in his mind
and he will just run with it
and run with it
and run with it and run with it.
And you just hope
that what he's running with
is, uh, productive,
won't destroy him.
Yeah, I didn't know,
I mean, you know,
many people have said to me,
I've got an obsessive
compulsive disorder,
um, well, an obsession as such,
um, I've become obsessed
about things.
If something was wrong
or if I didn't like something,
you know, I'd obsess about it,
and I'd go over it
and over it and go over it.
Or if I got into trouble, I'd go
over it, over it, over it.
If something was unjust,
I would go over that.
And I couldn't let go of things.
Well, he didn't seem
to be able to get away from it.
He's, uh, it's always there.
I don't know. I was just
born with an awareness.
Where things were right,
when things were wrong,
and if they seemed wrong to me,
like someone being bullied,
then I knew immediately
it was wrong,
and I'd have to try
and intervene.
I couldn't leave things.
Whereas a lot
of people would go,
"Well, that's how things are."
It's definitely there,
you know he's a,
I don't know,
he's very, um, clear about,
he's got very strong set
of principles.
He'll always be quick to point
out any kind of hypocrisy.
Yeah, he doesn't like injustice,
Yeah, not one little bit.
I presume my obsession
with injustice
must have come through
my parents.
I mean, that's how most things
come through,
so they obviously taught me
what was right
and what was wrong...
What they felt was right
and what was wrong...
And, uh...
my father always said, you know,
if you felt injustice
then you should always
fight against it
and every person, you know,
is equal and that, you know,
there shouldn't be a situation
where someone,
for instance, is bullied.
That just isn't right.
Everybody should be treated
with the same amount of respect.
I do know that he has become
more and more determined
as he's got more into it.
Never seen anyone,
well, I don't think,
work as hard as David.
It's taken over his life,
really, I'd say.
The negative is that it takes
your total focus
away from anything else.
I mean, I spent nearly
all my money on this
and didn't go out,
didn't go on holiday.
I just purely fought this
and put all my resources,
energy and money into this,
into fighting this cause.
I got a letter
from the council for...
Threatening me with prison
for not paying
my council taxing time.
So, um, I'd obviously
let everything slip.
I haven't paid for ages.
I haven't paid on any bills.
I was getting red bills
left right and center.
Well, I worry in that I think,
um, it does take over his life
a bit too much, probably.
Now all those
phone calls he made
and when it became, you know,
almost stopping Dave
living his life and doing,
perhaps, some of the other
important things.
Yeah, they sat down
and said, "Dave...
We're gonna tell you"...
So, no, I just.
They know me.
They know that I will
just carry on until I finish
and feel that the situation
has been resolved.
And, you know, I do think
it's gotten in the way of him
maybe getting a Nobel prize
except for something else.
But, um...
DAVE: Then French
Connection did something
even more unbelievable
than stopping sending me
my brochure.
So one day I was going into
French Connection
as I usually did every other
week or every week even,
uh, looking through the t-shirts
to check if there
are any new infringements.
I saw a design
that was actually mine.
It had W.N.A.K... wnak on it.
The f-cukers had stolen my wnak.
So I got the t-shirt,
I got this top and I went
and I bought it immediately
and came home and I was like,
"What the hell
am I gonna do about this?"
Yes, subsequently I remember getting
a phone call from Dave to say,
"Duncan, guess what?
Good news."
You could almost see his little
eyes light up over the phone.
So I sent them a letter.
I sent them
almost exactly the same
trademark infringement letter
that they sent me.
All I needed to do
was really simple,
was change my name
for their name.
"Dear Sirs.
It has recently
come to our client's attention
that your client
is openly selling
on its website and in its shops,
t-shirts featuring
the slogan wnak.
Our client has significant
goodwill in these marks
and your client's actions
are a clear case
of exploiting our client's
reputation and goodwill.
We look forward
to hearing from you."
The argument
is exactly the same.
It's our goodwill.
It's our mark.
You've copied it.
You couldn't possibly
have got it elsewhere.
It's unique to us,
um, you're passing off as us.
You're causing confusion
in the minds of the public.
When they came back to me
and then responded,
um, and they
were absolutely furious.
And the result was the letter
denying, uh, that there
was any cause of action,
denying that we had any sufficient
goodwill, uh, in the mark,
that we really weren't selling
hundreds of thousands of units.
And they latched
directly onto that.
They put,
Are you seriously
suggesting that
500 t-shirts
that I'd sold of wnak
was regarded as
a trademark infringement?
And I was like,
Yeah, it is that 500 t-shirts
is quite a lot
for a company of my size.
And they were obviously worried
because they justified it
by saying that
by having the dot between
the W. The N.
The A. And the K.,
it was not my wnak,
it was their wnak,
and by having the F.C.U.K.
in this coat of arms,
which I'd never seen before
and an anchor underneath,
it was their wnak,
and it clearly said
it was made by
French Connection.
Yeah, again,
it's a question of, uh,
I suspect a question
of might and resources
and the next step,
the only next step
that a lawyer could have offered
would have been
to commence court proceeding,
go to the high court,
let's get it on.
And that's very expensive.
And is Dave really gonna spend
50,000, 100,000?
Probably not.
Dave's, uh,
a far better route to Dave,
we have been some other way
of getting back or fighting
French Connection
that did not involve
going to court.
Now this wasn't there F.C.U.K.,
this was my F.C.U.K.
because there was clearly a dot
between the F., the C.,
the U., and the K.,
and it was clearly made by
King Cnut.
There was no confusion
I never saw another wnak t-shirt
in a French Connection store,
all the t-shirts with
wnak on in the brochures
I never saw again.
On the website
was never seen again.
So I believe
that within
a very short period of time,
they decided they'd better
withdraw the wnak t-shirt.
And I felt ecstatic.
Probably what happened,
I would guess,
that Dave's just a minor
annoyance to them at the stage
and each of their
t-shirt designs
only has a certain
shelf life anyway.
They're continually
updating their... their stock,
and I suspect
they just ran that one through.
I certainly don't ever recall
receiving a letter
from Davenport Lyons saying,
"You got us. Here."
Um, yeah, sure.
We'll withdraw our stock.
They would never
have admitted that.
But it may have had
some bearing on it.
I found out about this
because someone phoned me
and said,
"Have you seen... you're in a...
You've got a full-page spread
in the Metro newspaper today.
They've mentioned you
in a court case."
So I ran down to this shop
and, uh,
I would say bought,
but it's free,
and got a free copy
of the article,
and I was amazed that, uh,
that they used me as a defense.
Um, it was very likely
that he was gonna lose
because French Connection
was obviously,
had pumped a lot of money, though
employing a lot of people,
the chances
that a judge would go,
"Yeah, I agree."
Let's, uh,
let's stop the trademark.
Let's unemploy loads of people,
a big company that supposedly
helps the economy,
um, the chances that you're
gonna get it overturned
after several years as well as
them trading is very small.
DAVE: French Connection's barrister
in French Connection's defense,
the first thing he said was,
"Why aren't you taking
Cnut to court?"
Because their brand
is much worse than ours.
In the ruling made by this
brilliant judge called
Judge Arnold QC...
"In a decision
made public yesterday
Judge Richard Arnold QC
compared the fcuk trademark
with cnut.
'Cnut was not a swear word, '
he said.
"And on the Cnut t-shirt website
makes reference
to the Danish born
King Cnute who ruled England
from 1016 to 1035."
The website displays
the slogan...
So I got a recommendation
in the court for my t-shirt
and got a judge
to infringe
on the Mr. Kipling Logo
at the same time.
So I phoned Mr. Kipling.
I decided that I wanted
to work out
how much it would likely
to have cost French Connection
because it had cost me
by this time,
about 10,000 pounds I reckoned,
uh, fighting them.
It was me, the
accountant, the lawyer.
I felt that was a
fairly fair, um, return
for my 10,000
that I'd spent fighting them.
Yeah, obviously
that's just a, a guess
of everything,
but we have no idea.
Um, just from
the t-shirts being withdrawn
and the brochures
being destroyed,
um, as well as
the lawyers letters
and everything else
that they have to do,
not including the compensation
the French Connection
had to give to the companies
for what had been sold,
we worked out that it would
probably cost French Connection
in the region
of 3.5 million pounds.
Uh, I will never stop.
DAVE: If I go past a
French Connection shop,
I will pop in and have a look
because there'd been so many
infringements that I've caught
them doing
over the years
that I don't believe
that they will ever stop.
I need to know
that they've stopped doing
what they told me not to do.
I guess it depends
how you define victory.
Um, uh, he has done
everything at his disposal
to call to account
a large corporation,
uh, who Dave sees as, uh,
wronging him or bullying him,
and so he's using
whatever, uh, means
that are at his disposal
to, uh, to try and get even,
to try and get back.
Um, incredibly
persistent person.
Or French Connection are incredibly
persistent, one or the other.
Um, but, yeah,
I'd suppose you just don't,
you know,
don't let them off the,
you know, let them off the hook.
If you can continue
to tweak their tail
and cost them a lot of money,
um, you know, for a relatively
modest outlay yourself,
then, yeah, a good idea.
Yeah, 'cause, yeah,
I think it's important to, uh,
to prick the pomposity
of the unimaginative.
No, I like that kind of thing.
Everyone loves an underdog.
And Dave is that underdog.
Um, hmm...
"I don't know" is the answer.
But I'm not quite sure
where he's quite gonna go on
from, from this.
If he continues,
whether he's going
to take up some other cause
which is quite possible,
and I think if he does
he will go into it full...
You know, fully,
as he's done with this.
But otherwise, I think it'd be nice
for him to have a rest after this
'cause he certainly
will need it.
When I was at the company,
we had a conversation
between us in the design studio
about where the F.C.U.K.
would go,
because, you know, I honestly didn't
think it would last more than a year.
I didn't particularly like
it, and I still don't.
It's not my kind of product.
And the... it was all about F.C.
and not about fuck.
That was the important thing.
We would never
cross that boundary,
and we always
had to be very clear about that.
The whole trademarky thing
was about the fact it said F.C.
Um, the conversation
went along the lines of,
Well, at least they'll never be
a motherfucker.
Which of course, unfortunately
there has been and worse.
And I think
that's a great shame because
the product and the brand
are better than that,
and they're bigger than that.
In fact, they probably wish
they'd never met Dave
or written the letter
in the first place, I suspect.
All the letters that went
backwards and forwards,
all the time spent,
all the stress,
the hair loss,
all the double standards,
them still taking
the higher ground
all the way though,
even even though they'd been
infringing on hundreds
of people's ideas,
all the money
that was involved,
the, um, bullying
and the ridiculousness
of the whole thing,.
If they had just ignored
this little boy
who had a t-shirt dream,
none of this would've happened.
So is that it?
Yes, why not?
It should be... it'd be wonderful
to have it out there.
Wouldn't it when the credit
are rolling at the end...
"And here's the lawyer's band."
I know what
you're going to say
Go ahead and say it anyway
You promised
you'd sail the seven seas
New sleeve stripes
and sail away
You promised your lover
that she would see sense
over time
The ship sailed out to sea
You hesitated dock side
And it's such a shame
Dinner's spoiled again
It's no good
wishing on tomorrow
When your conversations
are full of yesterday
It's always the same
Nothing's gonna change
It's always the same
It's always
the same
Nothing's gonna change
It's always the same
Little sister
you gained an attitude
Don't let the welfare
go to your head
Go raise your
handsome young son
Change your outfit
get out of bed
And it's such a shame
Dinner's spoiled again
It's no good wishing
for tomorrow
When your conversations
are full of yesterday
It's always the same
Nothing's gonna change
It's always the same
It's always
the same
Nothing's gonna change
It's always the same
'Cause I can't take anymore
of this madness
I'm leaving today
The front door bell's
ringing out
Somebody come
to take me away
It's always the same
Nothing's gonna change
It's always the same
It's always the same
Nothing's gonna change
It's always the same
Conversation's the same
Nothing's gonna change
It's always the same
Situation's the same
Nothing's gonna change
It's always the same