Jun 12, 2024 3 min read

Easy Life return as Hard Life following easyGroup legal battle

Easy Life found themselves in a legal battle with easyGroup last year. The result was that the band were forced to change their name. Now, somewhat inevitably, they’re back as Hard Life with new single ‘Tears’. And the reviews are in - easyGroup says it’s "disparaging and defamatory”

Easy Life return as Hard Life following easyGroup legal battle
Photo credit: Isaac Lamb

The band formerly known as Easy Life have returned with their first new music under new name Hard Life. The band were forced to drop their former moniker following a legal battle with easyGroup, which accused Easy Life of trademark infringement.

New single ‘Tears’, says frontman Murray Matravers, was written about that legal run-in and “highlights the absurdity of the situation as well as thanking the people who have had my back throughout this whole ordeal”. 

It also directly references easyGroup owner Stelios Haji-Ioannou with the line, “It was easy in my 20s, now I gotta lawyer up, gimme airmiles or a fair trial Stelios”.

The company has already objected to the lyric, telling BBC News that it is “disparaging and defamatory” and breaches the terms of their legal settlement. A spokesperson added that easyGroup is “disappointed” that Hard Life have “chosen to needlessly refresh the dispute, which the band chose to settle several months ago”.

Whether the band have defamed easyGroup and its boss, or breached their settlement agreement, would be a matter for the courts, of course. Although this is not the first time the band have indicated that they were not happy with the deal that ended the legal battle. 

In a statement announcing their decision to give in and agree to change their name last October, the band said, “Sadly, it seems that justice is only available to those who can afford it. We simply don’t have the funds to access a fair trial in the high court”. 

The band were sued for trademark infringement a week before that announcement, and had previously indicated that they would fight the attempt to force them to change their name. 

While easyGroup does own a pretty wide-ranging trademark for easyLife, it registered this some years after the band formed. It also seemed a bit of a stretch that the company could claim that there would be confusion in the market causing people to think that the band was officially affiliated to easyGroup.

That said, the band had parodied easyJet branding on record artwork and merch in the past - the airline paying a licensing fee to easyGroup to use the 'easy' prefix. It was still arguably unlikely that consumers would think that Easy Life were the official band of easyJet, but this did add a layer of uncertainty when it came to the band’s chances in court. 

Announcing the release of ‘Tears’, Matravers explained the meaning behind the song and the decision to take on the new name Hard Life.

“Since our pretty public run-in with the well-known airline, my life has been turned upside down a little bit”, he said. “Everything has been on hold. All of us have had to reassess what the band means to us and come to terms with the idea that everything has a beginning, a middle and indeed, an end. The naive optimism we had in Easy Life has been swapped for something more raw and, I suppose, authentic”.

“Sitting with my thoughts and going backwards and forwards with IP lawyers, I wrote ‘Tears’”, he goes on. “It highlights the absurdity of the situation as well as thanking the people who have had my back throughout this whole ordeal. Of course, this song makes me smile, and I suppose that is my way of processing. Anyway, we’re back. Thanks for your patience”.

It remains to be seen if easyGroup makes its claim of defamation formal. It might not want another round of bad PR from such a move. Although it’s not like it’s a brand people love as it is. Everyone loves to complain about flying on easyJet, and I just discovered that another division of easyGroup makes really terrible toilet cleaner. 

Anyway, watch the video for ‘Tears’ below

Update 13 Jun, 10am: Edited to clarify that easyJet is a licensee of easyGroup, not a subsidiary.

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