Slaughter and the Dogs’ Dog Fight

Written by Samuel O’Toole | June 5, 2024

Trade Marks

For those of you that don’t know, Slaughter and the Dogs are an English punk band founded in 1975 who did not register their name as a trade mark (but did support the Sex Pistols at the infamous Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall gig on 20 July 1976).

The line up of Slaughter & the Dogs has changed overtime but began with Howard Bates (bass), Wayne Barrett-McGrath (vocals), Brian Grantham (drums) and Mick Rossi (guitar) who released Slaughter and the Dogs’ first album Do it Dog Style in 1978. Shortly after the album release the band split but was reformed in 1979 (with Philip Rowland replacing Brian Grantham). Not long after, Mr Barrett-McGrath left the band, Eddie Garrity was recruited on vocals and a second album was released. Ultimately, and musically, things came to a head for Slaughter & the Dogs in 1980 before a first reunion gig in 2015.

Trade mark-wise, and more recently, on 22 August 2018, Mr Barrett-McGrath applied for UK trade mark number 3333426 for SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS which was entered into the register on 16 November 2018. Things didn’t go so smoothly for the trade mark registration as shortly after it was registered, Mr Bates applied to invalidate it on the basis that he owned goodwill in relation to the SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS mark.

For the trade mark, things came to a head when the UKIPO recently determined the invalidity application. The Hearing Officer noted that “The case has been fought in an emotionally charged manner and despite best efforts, has been be-set by procedural issues, resulting in case direction letters and case management conferences.”

Jumping straight to the conclusion: the invalidity claim, in which Mr Bates was successful and saw the SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS trade mark be removed from the register, has a few useful pointers for bands:

First, your band name is valuable and should be registered sooner rather than later. As with the Slaughter and the Dogs matter, often if band names are not registered as trade marks there can be a cost and time consuming dispute waiting to happen.

Second, be careful about your band assets and who owns them. Usually without a contract or agreement, members of a band or group will be a partnership meaning that each member will own an undivided share.

Third, watchout for the last people standing. As the Hearing Officer explained at paragraph 117 of her decision, “consequently, the goodwill generated by ‘the band’ Slaughter and The Dogs should be taken to have been owned by the last men standing in 1980, namely Bates, Rossi, Garrity and Rowland.”

Fourth, the UKIPO tribunals are very well versed in determining trade mark disputes. If you are involved in a trade mark dispute then it can pay off to keep your case focused on the issues rather than making allegations that may not assist, as the Hearing Officer noted “defamation is not dealt with by this tribunal”.

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