Trade marks, tracks, beats and brands

August 27, 2020, By

‘trade mark’ will be a term that those in the music industry will be all too familiar with, but what are they, what do they do and (drum roll please) how can they make money?

The starting point, as countless others have found out before, for any musician, band or group should be looking to register the artist/band name as a trade mark. Once registered, a trade mark will give the owner the exclusive use to use that trade mark/name in connection with those goods or services it is registered with. This is a great tool to firstly get in there and safeguard your rights/band name (more on that below), but even better, if the need arose you could also use the trade mark to prevent other not so good third parties from operating under an identical or similar mark to that of your trade mark.

Now we do maintain that a great thing a band or musician can do is register the band/musician name as a trade mark, however, for those duets and over you should also be looking to decide a few key things. For example, who is going to own the trade mark (and your other IP rights for that matter!) and what happens if the band splits or a member leaves?

So what do we mean when we say ‘get in there and safeguard your rights/band name’, well glad you asked: in the world of trade marks, who came first is a very big thing. A good example of this takes us back to the ITV Popstars show and Liberty X…who would of have thought that later on down the line the Popstars’ band would be on the receiving end of a High Court claim from two members of 1980s funk band, Liberty. The Judge in the case even noted that “Nevertheless, carrying on with use of the name once [Liberty X] had learned of the existence of [1980]s Liberty involved taking a risk. This problem could have been avoided if a different name or a sufficiently modified version of the word ‘Liberty’ had been adopted then.”

So you have the trade mark, you know who owns it, more importantly you should now also know that you are less likely to be challenged for using the name and you can even take action to protect your hard earn reputation. Roll the credits…not just yet, we have just hit a sweet interlude and about to reach trade mark bliss.

Any band or musician should not stop at the band/musician name; you should be considering your track and album names. If your loyal fan base are buying merch, you want to be sure in the knowledge that you have a great tool to prevent copiers for both your musician name and number one track.

Trade marks do what copyright cannot, they can protect a few words joined together such as a catchphrase or lyric. As above, you don’t want to find yourself in the position whereby you can prevent counterfeiters from using your band and track name but not your key lyric.

If you are in doubt about what to register as a trade mark and how to go about the whole process, our team of expert lawyers are more than happy to assist you – we even offer a free consultation! Feel free to give us a call on 020 7288 6003 or send us an email to [email protected]

Written by Sam O’Toole, Solicitor

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