You might want to reconsider getting that One Direction tattoo or writing their name in permanent ink on your hand. Why? Because Simon Cowell’s label is being sued for $1 million by a U.S. band with the same name.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cowell’s Syco Entertainment and Sony Music were hit with a suit claiming that the “What Makes You Beautiful” quintet can’t mount their U.S. invasion without causing confusion and destroying the goodwill of the lesser-known U.S. group of the same name.
As Exhibit A of how the average consumer might be confused about the difference between the chart-topping , “Saturday Night Live” performing U.K. hotties who’ve helped spark a global boy-band revival and the unsigned American act who’ve been hawking their The Light album on iTunes since last February is the recent “Today Show” appearance by the group we’re going to call One Direction U.K. for the moment.
When the British lads appeared on the popular morning program, lawyers for the American Direction claim a producer at the show accidentally played music by the U.S. band in the background. The lawyer representing One Direction U.S., Peter Ross, said his clients released their debut well before One Direction U.K. dropped their record-breaking first effort in America last month.
Ross, who is also seeking an injunction to stop Cowell’s group from using their name, also said that Cowell’s company should have known better than to bring his young charges to American shores as One Direction, since he claims One Direction U.K. were made aware of the same-named American act when they attempted to file an application with the U.S. Trademark Office; the case is currently before the Trademark Trial & Appeal board.
One Direction U.K. was put together by Cowell while the various members were competing on the British “X Factor” reality show. Both groups have five members.
“Rather than change their name or do anything to create confusion or avoid damage to our goodwill, they chose to press ahead and come on their tour,” Ross said. According to the Reporter, proving potential consumer confusion shouldn’t be that hard for One Direction U.S. since their song “2012,” has been viewed more than 100,000 times on YouTube and sold “nicely” on iTunes. Part of that success could be attributed to consumers who found the American act by accident when searching for the British one. Ross said “2012” is the song NBC played by mistake when introducing One Direction U.K.
It might be hard to prove One Direction U.S. have been harmed by the attention, since they have gotten way more attention, and sales, than they might have otherwise thanks to the confusion. But Ross said the group, formed in 2009, has also gotten a lot of hurtful comments on YouTube after some fans felt duped when they realized they’d clicked on the other Direction. Ross said the latter proves that the goodwill of his client’s trademark is being denigrated.
While music history is littered with bands who’ve changed their names or adjusted them to avoid such situations in the past, Ross said Cowell and his act are resisting a name change because of their already-robust popularity.
“We’ve been in negotiations for a month to find a resolution,” Ross said. “In our view, the negotiations weren’t turning out to be very productive.”
In a statement obtained by MTV News, Cowell’s Syco Entertainment responded to the suit. “There is a dispute with a local group in California about the ownership of the One Direction name in the US. One Direction’s management tried to resolve the situation amicably when the matter first came to light, but the Californian group has now filed a law suit claiming they own the name. One Direction’s lawyers now have no choice but to defend the lawsuit and the band’s right to use their name.”
If One Direction have to change their name, what do you think it should be? Hit us at hashtag #New1DName to offer up your suggestions.