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Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
BBC wins police Tardis case
Tardis
The Tardis was suprisingly spacious inside
The BBC has won a battle to keep control of Dr Who's Tardis after the Metropolitan Police unsuccessfully argued it should own the trade mark of the distinctive image.

The time travelling vessel became the subject of a legal wrangle as the Metropolitan Police fought to gain control of the blue box, which was a familiar sight on the streets of London up until the 1960s.

The police objected to the BBC using the image of the Tardis on comics, T-shirts, videos and other merchandise, something it has done since the 1970s.

But the Metropolitan Police lost its appeal and has been ordered to pay 850, plus legal costs.

The case has been rumbling on since 1996, when the Patent Office originally accepted the Tardis as a BBC trade mark.

Reputation

But the Met claimed it should be trade mark holder of the Tardis, believing it to be commonly known as the police telephone box.

It said in 1953 there were 685 blue police telephone boxes in London, and that the boxes had a considerable reputation among the general public.

The Tardis has been Dr Who's preferred mode of travel for transporting him through time zones since 1963.

But hearing officer Mike Knight remarked that even if the police had built up any reputation, it would have only been in the area of policing and law enforcement and would not have extended into the goods and services which the BBC had applied to use it for.

Mr Knight said that the police telephone box had been used by other police forces outside London, so was not exclusive to the Metropolitan Police, and at best it would be described by the public as "street furniture".

"I bear in mind that for most of the period since the police call box was taken out of service, the only sight the public at large would have had of this item of street furniture has been in the TV programme Dr Who, provided by the BBC where it is a Tardis, a fictional time travelling machine with the external appearance of a police box," ruled Mr Knight.

See also:

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