More details have emerged over the week about the big trademark battle that's underway between the band Easy Life and EasyJet owner the EasyGroup.
The band revealed in a social media post on Monday that they are being forced to change their name by the airline owner, which runs various Easy-branded services. In a bullish response, the EasyGroup said in a statement that it has "a long established record of legally stopping thieves from using our brands".
EasyGroup owns the registered trademark EasyLife in a wide-ranging category that includes things like CDs and DVDs. However, it only actually began registering that mark in 2020, three years after Easy Life the band formed. That trademark was formally entered into the UK trademark register in August last year.
However, in a lawsuit it has filed against the band, the EasyGroup says that - as well as registering the EasyLife trademark - last year it also entered into a deal with a mail-order website that has been using the EasyLife brand since the early 2000s, including for selling music products.
The EasyGroup previously took issue with the EasyLife mail-order business using that brand. But seemingly the two companies made up, and the former acquired any rights the latter had in the EasyLife brand, and then provided a licence so that the mail-order company could continue to operate under that name.
So that's all a bit completed, isn't it? Though, EasyGroup is also accusing Easy Life of infringing its flagship EasyJet trademark. And that's in no small part because of a poster the band used for their Life's A Beach tour in 2021 and 2022, which featured an image of an EasyJet plane, but with the EasyJet logo reworked to say Easy Life.
Says EasyGroup's lawsuit: "The airplane poster uses an image of an EasyJet plane with the words easyJet replaced with the words Easy Life in the same font and style as used by EasyJet and the other brands within the Easy family".
Around about the same time, EasyGroup adds, the band also sold t-shirts with EasyLife written in the style of the EasyJet logo, employing the airline's distinctive orange colouring.
But, is any of that enough to constitute trademark infringement? "Owing to the strength of the reputation in the aforesaid marks, in particular the EasyJet mark and the EasyJet livery mark [ie the designs used on its planes], the defendant knew and intended that the use of the Easy Life figurative sign and airplane signs would capture the attention of consumers".
And while Easy Life were clearly taking the piss with their poster and t-shirt design, EasyGroup goes on: "By wrongly creating a link with the claimant, the defendant benefits from an association with that positive view and vast brand recognition, regardless of whether the link was intended to be provocative or humorous".
The lawsuit then talks through various things the band have done which, it argues, damages the reputation of the EasyGroup because of the connection between their name and its brands.
That includes selling merch containing the slogan ‘Who Gives a Fuck?'; frontman Murray Matravers shouting “fuck the Tories”, “you’re all crazy cunts” and “you’re all crazy motherfuckers” during a set at last year's TRSNMT Festival; and a show in Oxford in August this year during which "a member of the band encouraged the audience to 'stay behind and take ketamine with them'".
It seems unlikely anyone really thought there was any formal connection between Easy Life and EasyGroup, even with the tour poster and t-shirt. But whether that will be sufficient to fight the trademark infringement claim in court remains to be seen. The band may as yet try to kill the case by simply having a rebrand and then trying to settle the lawsuit.
Though EasyMusic isn't an option for an alternative band name. The EasyGroup lawsuit reminds everyone it also owns that trademark, having originally used it for a download service, then for a CD mail order site, then a karaoke set-up, and now a music news website.