Huffpost UK uk
Charlie Thomas Headshot

Pussy Riot Faces UK Legal Fight For Right To Branded Lingerie, Clothing, Music Devices And Merchandise

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Russian punk band Pussy Riot has less than three months to contest a trademark application which would allow lingerie, beachwear and other clothing, along with miscellaneous media devices branded with the band's name to be owned by their former attorney's wife.

The Huffington Post UK has discovered that on 28 December, the application for the UK trademark for 'Pussy Riot' was submitted by OOO Kinokompania Web-Bio, a film production company set up and run by Natalia Kharitonova, the wife of the band's former attorney Mark Feygin.

A much wider application which would cover far more goods and merchandise - including cosmetics, condoms, fireworks and alcoholic beverages, was also filed in September 2012.

A second company, named Timesci, has also applied for two separate trademark rights, though at the time of publication it was unclear who this company related to - the band, Feygin's wife, or a third party. These applications have already had opposition claims filed against them, possibly by Natalia Kharitonova's company.

Feygin served as one of three lawyers acting for Pussy Riot after the punk band was arrested for an unauthorised performance in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

However, on 1 October 2012, band member Yekaterina Samutsevich told a panel of three judges that she wished to terminate the representation of her defense attorneys, stating: "My position in the criminal case does not coincide with their position."

The following month, it was revealed that Kinokompania Web-Bio had attempted to register the ownership of the Pussy Riot trademark in April 2012, a request which was rejected in November 2012 by Rospatent, the Russian trademark body.

Prior to Rospatent's rejection, Feygin's wife had already received an advance payment of 30,000 euros to produce a film about the Pussy Riot trial, with an additional 170,000 euros payable upon completion of the contract, and 40% of the profits of worldwide sales of videos, according to Russian publisher Pravda.

Feygin - also known as Feigin - had publicly dismissed earlier reports suggesting he was attempting to make commercial gains by the use of the brand, published by the Russian business daily Kommersant.

He said at the time that he and his colleagues representing Pussy Riot were considering applying to a higher registering agency, but there was little hope for success.

The Moscow News reported that Samutsevich, whose jail term was replaced with a suspended sentence, disputed the Pussy Riot brand ownership rights with Feygin.

Speaking with a Kommersant correspondent, Sergei Badamshin, Samutsevich's current attorney, confirmed that he was discussing the issue of rights and use of the brand with her, but refused to disclose any details, citing "attorney-client privilege".

Pussy Riot now has until the end of March to contest the first of the UK trademark application made by Feygin's wife's company. At stake are the trademark rights to a large number of goods, including clothing, headgear, MP3 players, audio CDs; compact discs, DVDs and other digital information carrying media, sunglasses and lingerie.

The wider European trademark application, also made by Feygin's wife, is not yet advertised for appeals and objections, but will be in the coming moths.

If the band challenges the trademark ownership, the process will then progress into litigation, which could see any outcome appealed further. In some cases, disputes such as this can go through the High Court and beyond.

Karen Fong, a partner at IP specialist law firm Rouse, told Huff Post UK: "The outcome of this dispute will ultimately come down to money. The band will need to be bank-rolled by somebody to fight this."

Disputes over trademarks aren't rare, particularly within music; Jonathan Cornthwaite, partner at Wedlake Bell, told Huff Post UK: "The music industry is a very argumentative one, and squabbles amongst band members (or ex-members) over intellectual property rights are sadly not uncommon.

"When couples divorce, the custody wrangles are usually about the children; when bands split up, it's custody of the intellectual property rights that are often the issue."