Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir, a founder member of The Four Tops, has won a legal action in the High Court in London against Viscount Oliver Miller who has been touring the UK under then name Viscount Oliver’s Legendary Four Tops. Miller had no connection with The Four Tops, either in a recording or performing capacity and it is arguable if his band was meant to be a tribute band. Fakir and four other claimants began action against Miller after being made aware of the Viscount Oliver Legendary Four Tops tour by a UK fan. Fakir then discovered that Miller had trademarked ‘ Viscount Oliver’s American Dream The Legendary Four Tops‘ and that Miller had been for some time touring the UK using photographs of the old Four Tops to convince punters that they were the genuine article and claimed in press handouts amongst other things that he had recorded with the band and inferred that in fact he was one of the Four Tops. When the Viscount refused to stop touring under The Four Tops banner, or to surrender his trademark, Fakir sued. Miller issued a defence to the litigation, but this was struck out after “persistent and serious breaches of court orders” on the defendant’s part. The court found in Fakir’s favour, issuing an injunction to stop Miller from performing under The Four Tops name , damages and a declaration invalidating the defendant’s trademark.
Mr Justice Warren held and ordered as follows:
– that the registered UK trade mark Viscount Oliver’s American Dream The Legendary Four Tops was invalid
– Ordered by way of an injunction that The Defendant must not (whether by himself, his employees or agents or any of them or otherwise and whether alone or with others)
- perform or record music under
- “Viscount Oliver’s Legendary Four Tops”
- The name “The Four Tops” or
- Any name that is colourably similar to “Viscount Oliver’s Legendary Four Tops” or the Four Tops”
- advertise or otherwise promote performances or recordings which would breach the injunction at paragraph 1(a).
And Warren J further ordered that the defendant must not use and phrase containing the phrase “the Four Tops” and must not use photographs of the original line up(s) of The Four Tops.
Interestingly The order includes an order for dissemination of the Court order to the venues at which Miller’s act appeared and by way of an advert in the Stage and the order allows the Claimant to undertake this directly with the defendant paying for such by way of payment of the sum of £2.032.75. An inquiry into damages was ordered and t he defendant also had to pay £18,315.12 in costs.
Alexis Grower of Magrath & Co who acted for the claimants commented as follows “one of the matters that concerns me is that in some States in the US, there are local laws that prevent the kidnapping of a band’s name by pretenders although this is not federal law as such. As more and more of these 50s and 60s reach an age when they are no longer with us or unable to perform then this sort of activity will occur. Doing so is far more than just being a tribute band, it is actually taking over somebody’s reputation, profile and brand. This maybe something we should consider lobbying to be brought into English law as a protection.”
See more on the ‘Truth In Music’ campaign in the USA from archives: Oldies groups go to court to challenge ‘truth in music’ law but promoter held in contempt for using Drifters name (October 2007 Updates) and seehttp://www.musiclawupdates.com/07Septemberlawupdates.htm