Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Musicians' names as trade marks

Two interesting developments involving the use of musicians' names as trade marks within a few days of each other. In one, reported here by Out-Law.com, Frank Zappa's family trust has failed in a claim to stop the organisers of a festival dedicated to the great man using her registered trade mark. In another, the niece of the Spanish composer, José Padilla (died 1960), has failed in her attempt to stop the registration of the trade mark JOSE PADILLA by - erm - José Padilla. Another one. There are several famous ones around, including a US citizen convicted of aiding terrorists. He has nothing to do with the trade mark case. The gentleman who is involved is a DJ.

In the latter case, the opposition failed because the senior trade marks - Spanish national ones - had not been used as trade marks for the goods which were marketed in connection with the name. I think this means that the name of the composer of a piece of music is not an indication of the origin of the CDs or whatever on which the music is recorded, and on the basis that the commercial origin of those goods is a record company this seems right. And in the other case much the same was true of the Zappa trade mark - it had not been used as a trade mark in the European Union, or perhaps just in Germany - there is a CTM (in fact a couple) but there are also several German trade marks and the reports are not entirely clear. Anyway, the only use made of the mark appears to have been in a website address, and although goods were sold from the website they weren't sold to Germany so (presumably) the trade marks fell to be revoked for non-use.

Both cases show the importance of using registered trade marks, and doing so in the right way. As the range of stuff that people register has grown in the last few years, so the number of trade marks on the registers of Europe which aren't really being used has grown too. There are, no doubt, a lot of useless trade marks out there.

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