Sunday, August 28, 2016
Music Business/Law Tips - "Brand v. Artist"
Trademark law seeks to prevent consumers from being confused. Recently, some rappers have incorporated the luxury brand names "Burberry" and "Rolls Royce" into their artist names and related imagery. Burberry and Rolls Royce objected, alleging that the use of their marks will cause consumers to mistakenly believe that the rappers are affiliated with, endorsed/sponsored by, or somehow connected to the brands, and the use of offensive language in the rapper's music could diminish the value of the brands. Because either the rappers changed their names or did not put up a legal challenge, the brand's arguments won out here. However, because of potential free speech or no confusion arguments - is it really this black and white? For instance, in 2000, Mattel sued MCA Records for pop group Aqua’s use of the Barbie trademark in their song and video for “Barbie Girl”. After a lengthy battle, the court found that Aqua’s use was not confusing because the title of an artistic work was viewed differently than a commercial product. Clearly, trademark law is a murky and a dangerous area to tread lightly. Bottom line probably better to come up with a unique name with no potential conflicts. Ben McLane Esq benmclane.com