Trade Mark Disputes Over Band Names From Across The Ages

Russian punk band Pussy Riot is facing international challenges for the right to use its name on merchandise, consumer goods or musical devices and recordings going forward, as reported exclusively on the Huffington Post UK on Thursday.

But this isn't the first time bands have faced disputes about who owns the right to their band name.

Other bands that had disputes over the brand ownership:

Bucks Fizz: A long-running dispute over the rights to the brand Bucks Fizz. Three of the original Bucks Fizz members of Eurovision fame lost their claim to revoke the 'Bucks Fizz' trade mark which was initially registered by their record company and re-registered in 2001 by a new member of the Bucks Fizz group. The group has also lost its claim to trademark a new performing name, The Original Bucks Fizz.

The trio claimed they owned the goodwill to the name Bucks Fizz and that the Bucks Fizz mark had become misleading to the public as only one member of the original group, Bobby G, was still performing.

But the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) rejected both their claims stating the original members had given up any rights by leaving the group. Further, as the record company who owned the trade mark at the time of the original line-up had consented to the trade mark being re-registered in 2001 by a new member of the group, it could not be held that anyone else had a better legal claim to the trademark.

Westlife: In 2005 the Court of First Instance (as it was then called), which is the second highest court in the European Union, upheld an opposition to an attempt by BMG Music to register the word Westlife as a European community trade mark in respect of (amongst other things) entertainment services provided by the band 'Westlife'.

The Rubettes: In 2006 the English Court of Appeal ruled on a settlement agreement between former members of the band 'The Rubettes' in respect of (amongst other things) the use of the band's name.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood: In 2007 the UK Intellectual Property Office upheld an opposition to a trade mark application to register Frankie Goes To Hollywood, which had been filed by a company controlled by Holly Johnson, the former lead singer of the band.

The opposition was brought by the remaining band members on the grounds that the original members of that band owned the goodwill in the name as a partnership, and that therefore the use of the trade mark by the applicant could have amounted to passing off. The opposition was also upheld on the grounds that the application had been made in bad faith.

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