A dad has become locked into a legal dispute with Hugo Boss over t-shirts and hats that he produced.

John Charles, who is known for iconic paintings on buildings and figures in Liverpool, started hosting free virtual art classes on Facebook with his daughter Emmy during lockdown.

Helping homeschool thousands of children during the pandemic, John and Emmy would sign off each session with the motto 'Be boss be kind'.

As the classes grew more and more popular, John decided to start selling merchandise with that motto on, saving money he earned from it to help pay for Emmy's future.

He applied for a trademark for the designs - and last week, the artist received a letter from solicitors Simmons & Simmons, who act for the Hugo Boss group of companies, stating they will be filing a "Notice of Threatened Opposition" against the application on behalf of their client.

John started hosting virtual art classes with his daughter Emmy, and would sign off each session with the motto ''Be Boss Be Kind'

John was left stunned after receiving the letter, admitting he thought it was a "joke".

He told the Liverpool Echo: "During lockdown, me and my daughter, who is 10, decided to run online art classes for kids who were homeschooling.

"That first week we had 27,000 people join us for that week. It was crazy how many people joined us from across the world.

"One of our biggest mottos was at the end of each class, we would always say to everybody 'Be Boss Be Kind'. It was rather that than talking about what was going on with Covid, we didn't want to have any of that involved in the class.

John started selling t-shirts and hats with the logo on

"After, when lockdown eased, the classes relaxed a bit, they weren't as regular as they were previously.

"We’ve decided now to get the classes up and running again. A lot of parents have been messaging us asking can we do our classes again.

"On the back of that a lot of parents were asking about merchandise so we decided to do hoodies, caps and t-shirts with our logo 'Be Boss Be Kind.'

"To make sure we did it as professionally as possible we’ve paid to have our logo trademarked as well."

John said the trademarking process was going fine until the end of last week when he received a letter from Hugo Boss’ solicitors to say they object to the use of the word ‘boss’ on any sort of apparel.

John received a letter from solicitors Simmons & Simmons, who act for the Hugo Boss group of companies

He said: "I thought it was a joke, I genuinely thought it was a wind up.

"I can’t get my head around it. It’s bizarre.

"I just looked it and thought how can you possibly have a go at that?

"We can use it for the education side of things but we’re not allowed to use it on clothing at all."

A letter from Simmons & Simmons, who act for the Hugo Boss group of companies (collectively "Hugo Boss"), said their client was "concerned to learn" about the recently filed UK trade mark application for 'Be Boss Be Kind.'

It also referenced the Trade Marks Act 1994, that a trade mark "shall not be registered if it is similar to an earlier trade mark, and the goods or services applied for are identical or similar to those for which the earlier trade mark is protected, and there exists a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public, including a likelihood of association by the public with the earlier mark."

John thought the letter was a joke at first

The letter, dated September 22, in part reads: "Our client has built up a substantial and valuable goodwill in the United Kingdom in connection with 'BOSS.'

"Use of the mark which is subject of the Application is likely to deceive the public into believing that your goods and/or services are those of Hugo Boss, that you are authorised by or connected to Hugo Boss, or that Hugo Boss has endorsed your activity under your mark.

"As a result the goodwill of Hugo Boss would be damaged.

"Use of the mark that is subject of the Application would therefore also likely amount to passing-off."

It continued: "We will shortly be filing, on behalf of our client, a Notice of Threatened Opposition (Form TM7A) against the Application.

"The primary reason for filing this form is to extend the opposition deadline by one month so as to allow time to resolve this matter and hopefully to avoid formal opposition proceedings."

It also summarised the technical grounds for the refusal and stated that despite their client's concerns in relation to the trademark application, their client wishes to agree an amicable resolution of the matter if possible.

The letter said their client was 'concerned to learn' about the recently filed UK trade mark application for 'Be Boss Be Kind'

It is understood the fashion giant will be contacting John to seek a resolution.

John said the "Be Boss Be Kind" logo does not look like the Hugo Boss brand logo and would not lead to confusion between the two.

He also said that the word "boss" is regularly used by residents across Merseyside as a positive term of endearment.

John said: "Scousers always say boss, it’s another way of saying nice. Scousers have said that for years, way before I was born.

"As far as I know it’s a Scouse thing, we say 'you’re boss' or 'have a boss day'.

"So for me and Emmy in the lockdown, that was our little thing we could say.

"It’s upsetting. Everything I do, I do it for my family, it’s to build a better life for my wife Jen and Emmy our little girl.

Huge Boss has been involved in other legal claims involving the use of their name

"We were just trying to give her a stepping stone because she’s massively into fashion. It was a little thing for her as well."

John has also been working hard behind the scenes to create a free regular monthly online class, buying a home studio set-up with lighting and screens to take the class to the next level.

In August 2019, Wales Online reported multi-award winning brewery Boss Brewing, based in Swansea, applied to own the trademark of its name.

The procedure should usually cost £300 - but owners Sarah John and Roy Allkin ended up in a four-month legal battle they could never have expected, forking out a near £10,000 sum in solicitors' fees by the time it was all resolved.

The story hit the news again earlier this year in March, after comedian Joe Lycett officially changed his name to Hugo Boss as an act of solidarity with small businesses who have been approached by the company.

At the time, the German luxury fashion house said that they "welcome" the comedian as a member of the Hugo Boss family, Wales Online reports.

Hugo Boss and Simmons & Simmons were approached for comment.