ONE Direction are being sued by a US boyband claiming they owned the name first, according to reports.
The American group — who are also a five-piece — is demanding a court order to force Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson to change the name of their band.
In legal papers, the Americans claim they formed in 2009 — before the X-Factor boys had even met.
They also claim they were first in filing a trademark application at the US Patent and Trademark Office.
They claim they are entitled to three times the profits made by the Brits, as well as damages of more than £600,000.
The legal action was revealed as Harry and the boys enjoyed Stateside success — landing a No1 with their debut album Up All Night.
Meanwhile the Californian One Direction — led by singer and pianist Sean O’Leary — have made little impact, with their biggest gigs being at local fairs and bars.
Fans from all over the world have taken to Twitter to support the British and an online petition has been launched.
One fan tweeted: “It’s not our fault that US One Direction faded away. Leave our UK boys alone.”
It is not the first time one of Simon Cowell’s X Factor bands has run into trouble over a name.
Last year’s show winners Little Mix had to change their name from Rhythmix, which was also the name of a Brighton-based charity.
The American One Direction have recorded two albums but on their iTunes page one customer wrote: “NOT X FACTOR 1D!!
“I thought this was the british 1D from xfactor 2010 dang it.”
Below that another post, under the heading, ‘THIS IS SOOOO AWESOME!!!’ sings the US band’s praises.