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Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band trade mark may be registered by band members

Subject: Intellectual property/Trade marks

Source: Bailii

Rodney Slater and Others v Anglo Atlantic Media Limited [2020] EWHC 710 (Ch)

High Court of Justice Intellectual Property List Hearing dates: 25 February 2020

In 2005 a Mr Carruthers, a promotor and manager, conceived and organised an anniversary concert for the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (the Band). Other concerts followed, merchandise was sold, and an anthology made in 2016. In October 2015 the company which Mr Carruthers represented, Anglo Atlantic Media Limited AAM) applied to register the sign below:

Bonzo Dog Doodah Band logo

as a UK Figurative mark in classes 9 (Music recordings etc.) and 41 (Entertainment) and the mark was accepted without objection by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and entered on the register on 8 January 2016.

In October 2017 the Band members made an application (to the IPO seeking a declaration of invalidity and cancellation of the mark on the grounds that it had been registered in bad faith, as AAM knew that neither Mr Carruthers nor itself held any goodwill in the mark. The Band members also applied to register BONZO DOG DOO DAH BAND as a plain text mark.

In October 2019 the Registrar of Trade Marks ruled that Anglo Atlantic Media Limited had registered its mark in bad faith and allowed the Band members to register their plainĀ  text mark. The judge stated: “ Nevertheless, I still find that filing the application was an act of bad faith. Unless there is an agreement to the contrary (which I have found there was not), or unless the band is created by a record company (which it was not), persons or businesses who engage with a band in the way that [Anglo Atlantic Media Limited] (and before it Mr Carruthers/his companies) has, should not be registering trade marks the effect of which would be to put them in complete control of the name of the band they represent and which would have the potential effect of preventing the band from undertaking the activities it should be free to do under its own name.”

However, in March 2019 AAM had filed two actions against the Band members in the High Court claiming conspiracy to injure, malicious falsehood, misrepresentation and trademark infringement. The Band members applied to have the claims struck out as an abuse of process.

The High Court has now ruled that the causes of action in the High Court as pleaded by AAM were incomplete, prolix, offended the principle of absolute privilege and many of the facts underlying the causes of action had been decided by the Registrar of Trade Marks giving rise to issue estoppel. The actions were totally without merit.

Comment: the High Court judgment allows the Band members to have their trade mark and remove the mark registered by AAM. Legaleze notes however that the AAM mark is still on the official register as at 23 April 2020. The moral of the t ale is that music bands, as any business, should consider at the earliest opportunity the merits of applying to register a trade mark to protect their name or logo.

[Original case report provided by BAILII is acknowledged with thanks. Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. Legaleze is solely responsible for the article or summary


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