British boy band One Direction, among the hottest new acts in the music business on both sides of the pond, are being been sued for Trade Mark infringement by a Californian pop-rock group with the same name. Attorneys for the California band are seeking an injunction that would stop X-factor supremo Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment as well as the UK band from using the name One Direction and they also want a share of the profits earned by the chart-topping British boys. In a federal lawsuit filed on Monday in California Central District Court the California band says it is entitled to three times the profits made by their rivals, as well as compensatory damages in excess of US$1 million. The lawsuit said the continued use by both bands of the same name was causing “substantial confusion and substantial damage” to the goodwill earned by the California group.
The Northern California band has been using the name One Direction since late 2009 and has recorded two albums, the lawsuit states. It filed an application to register the trademark name in the United States in February 2011. The British band, made up of Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles placed third on The X Factor and went on to top the UK charts with their first single. Their debut album Up All Night entered the Billboard charts at No.1 last month in the United States, and they were greeted by hordes of screaming young girls at appearances in New York and Los Angeles ahead of a U.S. tour later this year. They are currently in Australia. One Direction already has some 4.2 million Facebook fans and 2.8 million followers on Twitter.
The five man California band, by contrast, has a much lower profile. Led by singer and pianist Sean O’Leary, its members began making music at school and the group has played at local fairs and bars, according to their website. O’Leary told reporters that his band were the first to file an application for ownership of the name with the US trademark authorities, and that Syco and Sony knew this, because they were told so by the US Trademark Office when they tried to register the mark.
The matter is currently with the trademark appeals panel and attorneys for One Direction USA says that, despite being aware of the name clash before launching One Direction UK in the US market, Syco did nothing to ensure the two bands were not confused saying “Rather than change their name or do anything to [avoid] confusion or avoid damage to our good will, they chose to press ahead and come on their tour”.
One Direction UK’s Zayn Malik told Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper “We don’t have any idea [what’s going to happen] but we’re not changing our name”.
2011 X-factor contestants Rhythmix changed their name to Little Mix after complaints to Syco Entertainment from a charity of the same name.
…and see this article on News.com.au for a slightly more bizarre story involving One Direction and a possible STI scare from handling koala bears!!