Bullying TV gameshow producers told Rhythmix fundraisers ‘Get a lawyer,’ so they did – and now Cowell cowards back down

Simon Cowell

Climbdown: Simon Cowell

Producers of TV gameshow The X Factor have backed out of a legal battle over their theft of a charity name for one of their manufactured pop acts.

Tens of thousands of people showed their support for the Rhythmix children’s music organisation after a girl group on the show, owned by Simon Cowell, also decided to call themselves Rhythmix.

When the charity tried to discuss the issue, pointing out their name was trademarked, Cowell’s spokesman told them: “Get a lawyer.”

They bully-boy position taken by production firms Syco, owned by Cowell, and TalkbalkThames inspired the launch of a campaign to get Nirvana’s Smells LIke Teen Spirit to the UK’s Christmas number one spot in protest. The move is also a protest at Cowell’s annual marketing campaign which effectively buys the coveted chart position for the X Factor act of his choice.

But the Brighton-based charity also took the producers’ advice and spoke to legal counsel – and now The X Factor has bowed out of a battle they were almost certain to lose.

Rhythmix boss Mark Davyd wrote an open letter to Cowell – who doesn’t appear in the UK edition of the show any longer – saying: “We don’t buy this media invention of you as Mr Nasty. Your Wikipedia entry explains at length of your involvement with children’s charities, and we commend you for it.

“But equally we don’t believe you are unaware of way your own company is acting. Or maybe your staff are trying to ‘manage’ it for you?”

Now a spokesman for The X Factor says: “At the request of the charity Rhythmix, the members of the girl group Rhythmix have decided to change their name, a decision which has the support of Syco and TalkbalkThames. The group’s new name will be announced in due course.”

Nearly 70,000 people are currently signed up to the Smells Like Teen Spirit campaign. In 2009 a similar campaign succeeded in preventing a Cowell act reaching Christmas number one, replacing it with Rage Against the Machine’s Killing In the Name.

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