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Is Pussy Riot Big Enough to Lay Claim to Its Own Name?

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As The Huffington Post UK has diligently reported, a fight has broken out over the name Pussy Riot, and the odds for the band that originally sought the media eye by acts of religious hooliganism don't look good.

Applications to register the trade mark 'Pussy Riot' have been 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, and stretch across the European Union. Several others are also taking a punt and trying to lay claim to the name.

Having failed to properly protect the legal rights to the band's name before they hit the headlines, the anarchist girl group will now need to fight off competition for their own name across Europe and beyond. To say that the legal bills to do so will be considerable is an almost laughable understatement.

As a general rule, the trade mark system tends to favour the first to use a brand name rather than the person who first filed it, if they can prove it - though there are countries where this is not the case.

The band's best hope may be to argue that following the news interest surrounding the case theirs is a 'global' brand which would therefore mean it is protected under the Paris Convention. However, to do so, they would probably need to prove that theirs is a brand name on a par with corporate giants like Coca Cola and Burger King.

The story should act as a stark warning to those hungry for fame. Anyone eagerly queuing up for 'talent show' auditions or bands gigging furiously, determined to be the 'next big thing', would do well to remember that the right to use and commercially exploit their name cannot always be guaranteed.

Many have learned the hard way that the quicker you lay claim to your own brand name, the safer it is. As Natalia Kharitonova prepares to kick-start the production line to churn out enough branded merchandise to clothe a feminist-anarchist army, it seems that Pussy Riot is about to join them.