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US band sues Syco over One Direction name

By | Published on Wednesday 11 April 2012

One Direction

Ah, an ‘X-Factor’ created band embroiled in a name dispute, that seems faintly familiar, doesn’t it? But this time the dispute is in America, where another band called One Direction are suing Sony Music and its Syco division over the use of the moniker by the ‘X’ created boy band sensations who, as previously reported, are doing rather well Stateside.

One Direction USA say they formed in 2009, before Simon Cowell first put together his One Direction boyband on the UK version of ‘X-Factor’ in 2010. Certainly they started selling their album ‘The Light’ on iTunes in February 2011 which, while after the UK group had been created, preceded the release of their debut album ‘Up All Night’, in Britain, never mind the US.

The US band, led by Sean O’Leary, say they were also first to file an application for ownership of the name with the US trademark authorities, and that Syco knew this, because the label was told so by the US Trademark Office when it tried to register the mark for itself (the matter is currently with the trademark appeals panel).

The legal rep 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. Says their lawyer: “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”.

While the US band are much more low key than their UK namesakes, confusion has already occurred, the American band says, noting that one of their tracks was recently mistakenly used by NBC’s ‘Today Show’ to soundtrack a feature about the British boyband. Of course YouTube views and iTunes sales of that track, called ‘2012’, are now doing pretty well, very possibly as a result of fans of the ‘X’ band getting confused, so you could argue the American outfit are benefiting rather than suffering as a result of the confusion. Still, you can see why they might be a bit annoyed. Hence the million dollar lawsuit.

Neither Sony nor Simon Cowell’s Syco have as yet commented on the litigation. The matter will almost certainly be settled out of court though. At least this time the Syco machine isn’t screwing over a children’s charity in its bid to take ownership of someone else’s name.