Trade Mark Vice – Vice Media takes on unsigned indie band ViceVersa

We bring you word of a new trade mark stoush – this time between Vice Media, a company valued at US$2.5 billion, and an unsigned indie band based in LA – ViceVersa.

In November last year, the band’s application to have its name trade marked was accepted by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

This resulted in the media company sending a cease and desist letter to the band in December, claiming that the band was infringing its exclusive rights and was “likely to confuse consumers”.  Vice Media demanded that the band cease using its name, take down its website and social media pages and stop selling merchandise bearing the band’s name. In a fairly heavy handed approach, Vice Media also asked the band to provide documented revenues for its almost four years of existence.

Harry Finkel, the band’s attorney, responded to the letter offering to change some of the language of the trade mark application so that it was clear the band would steer clear of “doing anything with TV shows or magazine publishing or publishing in general.” He received no response.

Instead, in March this year Vice Media filed a letter of opposition to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, requesting the band’s application be denied.

Finkel seems to be feeling confident in the band’s position however, pointing out that companies “can’t protect commonly used words or phrases like ‘vice’ when used inside of another word or phrase that is unique.”  He added that in this case the word ‘vice-versa’ has “little to do with Vice itself.”

The band released this video in response to the debate:

We will keep you posted.