Walker Morris’ client wins major music trade mark dispute

Andy Powell from the rock band, Wishbone Ash Print news article

25/10/2013

Lawyers at Walker Morris have achieved a successful outcome in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court for Andy Powell from the rock band, Wishbone Ash.  The case is one of the most high profile music band disputes in recent years and has important consequences for trade mark rights in the music industry.

Wishbone Ash gained widespread popularity in the 1970s with its third album, Argus, which is widely regarded as a classic of its genre.  Through the involvement and guidance of Andy Powell, the last member of the original line up, the band, which has a diehard following across Europe and the USA, is still actively performing.

The case concerned the activities of Martin Turner, a former member of the band, who had left twice to pursue other interests in 1981 and then again in 1991.  However, more recently, he formed a band under the name ‘Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash’ in response to which Andy Powell brought trade mark infringement proceedings against him.  Martin Turner, who is represented by Mishcon de Reya, denied infringement and sought to have the European wide trade mark registration in WISHBONE ASH, which is owned by Andy Powell, to be declared invalid .

Disputes between music bands are certainly not new and Wishbone Ash is the latest of a spate of cases involving ex-members seeking to use the names of their former bands, for example Saxon, the Animals, the Sugababes and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.  However, this case was unusual by virtue of the fact that the claimant/trade mark owner was the ‘last man standing’ from the original band, which is still performing.

Philip Harris, Trade Mark Litigator and former President of ITMA, acted as Counsel for Andy Powell before the IPEC

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