Netflix is sued by EasyJet founder over TV series 'Easy'

EasyGroup, the company behind the EasyJet airline, is suing Netflix over its "Easy" comedy series, saying that use of the name breaches its European trademarks.

The series, directed by Joe Swanberg, follows a variety of couples in Chicago exploring sex and romance, with stars including actors Orlando Bloom and Emily Ratajkowski.

In a statement emailed to CNBC, EasyGroup founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou called Netflix "arrogant" and claimed the company had not checked the legal rights to the name outside the U.S.

"When Joe Swanberg came up with the name 'Easy' for his new TV series a couple of years ago they should have checked with their European lawyers before using it. We own the European trademark in the word 'easy' and another 1,000 trademarks with easy as a prefix and we can't allow people to use it now as a brand name."

EasyGroup founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou speaks at the 20th anniversary of the airline EasyJet in November 2015
EasyGroup founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou speaks at the 20th anniversary of the airline EasyJet in November 2015

The third and final series of "Easy" will be released next year. "At least I am pleased that Netflix have said that they will stop at series three anyway. However, we have to stop them from promoting the older series in Europe for online streaming," Haji-Ioannou added.

EasyGroup is known for fiercely protecting its name, and a "brand thieves" section on its website details court cases and words it has trademarked such as "EzyBusiness." The group is an investment vehicle that licenses a number of names to businesses such as EasyGym and EasyCar, as well as EasyJet, which was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2000. The Haji-Ioannou family owns around a third of the airline and receives royalties from it based on turnover.

Netflix said in a statement emailed to CNBC: "We're looking into it but think viewers can tell the difference between a show they watch and a plane they fly (in)."