Live events sector
News has reached Music Law Updates of what seems to be a name spat between the s.u.n psy-trance festival in Hungary, and an entity which appears to have captured their name – after lawyers in Hungary and Cyprus secured a trade mark for the mark s.u.n festival last year. The Hungarian s.u.n festival points out that the registration was filed just a week after their first edition in August 2013 and is in the name of Stapia Limited of Arch. Makariou III, 95 Charitini Court, 1st floor, Office 102, Nicosia, Cyprus, 1071, and for classes 35, 38 and 41. However, they are suspicious that another Hungarian psy-trance festival may be behind the move. The registration (registered on the 13th December 2013) had an important consequence – lawyers acting for the trade mark owner forced the shutdown of the Hungarian s.u.n. festival’s Facebook page with the organisers saying “and the admins were also personally banned from their fb activity. It happened without any prior notice, although the ‘likes’ were over 100.000(!). There was only a short message saying that a copyright violation issue had been going on with us, and they provided a name and contact address to the lawyer representing the company who made the actual claim.” As this concerns a name it must actually be a trade mark matter (rather than copyright), but that aside, it’s an interesting story.
The organisers of the s.u.n festival, whose moniker stands for ‘solar united natives’ go on to say this: “The lawyer’s office was located in Cyprus… It started to be interesting, as this country was considered as a popular “off-shore” or “tax-optimizing” place in Europe. After a week of chasing this guy (he is on vacation, secretary is on holiday, internet not working, etc.) finally we managed to get through on the phone, but his answer was only that he needed more time to “check this case”, and because of “Facebook not working” we were kindly asked to get back again later… but of course we never ever succeed again. Meanwhile the second Facebook fan-page and event-page were shot down, and the website hosting company had received a warning from the same lawyer in order to take the S.U.N. homepage down. It started to look serious, so we decided to check this company in the international copyright registry” and they discovered three European Community Trade Mark registrations – for s.u.n. festival (no EU 012035887) and for “ozora” and “radioozora” word and logo marks (also in classes 35, 38 and 41).
The o.z.o.r.a. festival is the well known ‘psychedelic tribal gathering’ which took place from the 29th July to the 3rd August 2014 in Dádpuszta, South West of Budapest in Hungary. The event has been held on an estate in Ozora every year since 2004. Interestingly the first party was called Solipse and took place during the Solar eclipse of August 11, 1999.
The s.u.n. organisers also say that they have discovered that the legal representative who secured these registrations was the Hungarian firm of lawyers Magyar György és Társai Ügyvédi Iroda (and this is where it gets somewhat subjective) they say this: “This lawyer’s office is also a representative for the organizing company of the O.Z.O.R.A. Festival, an event considering itself as the ‘concurrent’ organization in Hungary. Coincidence?” And the s.u.n. team say that they have failed to speak to the organizers of the O.z.o.r.a. because “they denied any further communication and the possible connection between them and this issue.” That said, a DJ friend of this column confirmed that the organisers of s.u.n “used to be part of it (o.z.o.r.a)” but there was a dispute between the o.z.o.r.a owner (who owns the land where the festival is held) and the team initially brought in to organise the festival – and the relationship ended and those who left seemingly ended up as the organisers of s.u.n.festival – and rivals to o.z.o.r.a. The newcomer event’s success has seemingly hit o.z.o.r.a’s tickets sales (they are direct competitors and the only two psy-trance festivals in Hungary): s.u.n. attracted 5,000 festival goers in 2013 and 10,000 in 2014 – o..z.o.r.a’s average attendance had been 20,000 (having peaked at 30,000) but this year dropped to 12,000 and my colleague said “There is no doubt that this competitive relationship lead to some serious tensions between the 2 events”.
We contacted the offices of Magyar György és Társai Ügyvédi Irodato by email see if they were aware of any connection between the registrants of the trade marks and o.z.o.r.a, and ideed wanted to comment, but at the time of posting this blog that firm’s office had only just re-opened after the holiday period and we had received no response.
So what do the ‘original’ s.u.n festival say: The say this: “We think that anybody who registered our festival’s name in the international trademark registry (for loads of money) was doing it on a malicious purpose, [e]specially when they attacked our communication channels during the most important times, hiding behind an offshore company… So we decided to fight: we get back our name with a legal process, and use ‘S.U.N.’ everywhere – who wants to take it away from the people?” and finish with “And you know… the Truth is like the Sun – it always comes up!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLz0YSqaPXs (o.z.o.r.a festival 2013 official film)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzkwoC-3k98 (s.u.n.festival 2014 video – After the Storm, DJ Emok)