The ages of the members ranged from a 23 year old me to a couple of blokes in their early 50s. One of them was a 1960s pop music guru who had a particular fixation with a group called 'The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band'. I was never certain (in those pre-Wikipedia days) whether the band had ever really existed or whether he was pulling my leg, but whenever there was a music round question that we couldn't answer, we gave 'The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band' as the answer, just in case. It's therefore a name that has always stuck in my head (and which I'll abbreviate to TBDDDB to save on my blog wordcount).
I was therefore quite amused recently to see that TBDDDB has been the subject of a dispute in the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) about who has the right to own the registered trade mark comprising the band's name and logo. Bear in mind that the original band 'dis-banded' in 1970, reformed years later with some (but not all) of the original members, has also undergone changes in its line-up over the years and that the disputed trade mark application was actually made by a media company with no link to any of TBDDDB's members.
It made me wonder how many well-known band names are unprotected so I carried out a random sample. My children constantly remind me (sneeringly) that far too large a proportion of my iPhone's storage space is taken up with 1980s 'rubbish' as they mistakenly call it, so I used Depeche Mode, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Ultravox as a random test sample of three UK bands. According to the UKIPO:
- 'Depeche Mode' is registered very comprehensively: as well as covering music and video, it covers every possible kind of merchandise from figurines to jigsaw puzzles, key fobs and bedspreads;
- 'Frankie goes to Hollywood' seems never to have been registered; and
- 'Ultravox' was never registered by the new romantic Midge Ure and friends, but has been registered for use in the hearing aid market.
So what's my point? Well, the Beach Boys, the Drifters and New Kids on the Block have all been involved in intellectual property (IP) disputes over who has (and does not have) the right to use a band name. The common denominator seems to be that no-one gave much thought to protecting the band's name in the early days. They were probably all too busy throwing TV sets out of hotel bedroom windows and generally enjoying the heady, high-growth days of their new start-up ventures. By the time the business was established, the income steady and the goodwill and reputation growing, there was already a lack of clarity as to who owned what, and that's when the arguments begin.
My advice is therefore that if you’re a growing business and haven't protected your IP, then please come and speak to one of our team. Whether it’s a patentable invention, a piece of music, a film a database or a trade mark/trade name, there's almost certainly something that we can do to help you to protect it and make clear who owns it.
As for TBDDDB, the pub quiz team eventually won a £30 snowball accumulator and free drinks for the evening by guessing the answer to the following question: "Which 1960s band was made famous by the programme 'Do Not Adjust Your Set' starring Michael Palin?" Yes, you've guessed it too.