Bedford v The Number (UK) Ltd

Reference: [2004] ISLR SLR-18

Court: OFCOM

Judge: Content Board

Date of judgment: 27 Jan 2004

Summary: Intellectual property- sports law- OFCOM- Advertising- complaint under r 6.5 ITC Advertising Code - whether the claimant was caricatured in a 118 advert


Instructing Solicitors: Couchman Harrington


David Bedford broke the 10,000 metres world record in 1973. He had a particular hairstyle with a “zapata” moustache and ran in distinctive sky-blue shorts and red socks. He saw the 118 adverts where the runners looked similar to him. He did not object for a period of 6 months because he thought he had no legal remedy, having been so advised. The Number spent considerable sums in developing their advertisements in the meantime.


What was the appropriate test for portrayal or caricature – did the adverts portrary or caricature David Bedord – if so, what should be done by OFCOM.


The adverts did caricature him. The Number did not obtain his permission. There was a breach of rule 6.5 of the Code. However, it would be disproportionate to direct that the adverts should not be carried. Finding of breach held to be a sufficient resolution of the matter.


The complaint illustrates the possibilities of obtaining a de facto personality right through the broadcasting Advertising Code.