A trade mark infringement case is being brought by RZA a producer of the Wu-Tang Clan, against a New York based dog-walking company called the Woof-Tang Clan.
RZA is a producer and member of the hip-hop group, which were assembled in the early 90s in Staten Island, New York. He is suing the Brooklyn based dog walking company for a breach of the groups' rights in their brand name. Marty Cuatchon, the owner of the company, had also been selling merchandise of dogs on classic hip-hop albums including ones of the Wu-Tang Clan on the company website but these have now been taken down.
As reported by the New York Daily News, Cuatchon filed a trade mark application for his company name in early June. RZA filed an opposition against the application last week, alleging that the company is 'unjustly benefiting from Wu-Tang Clan's brand name' and that it violates their intellectual property. According to media company, Mashable, the hip-hop group have owned trademarks for "Wu-Tang" and "Wu-Tang Clan" since 2009.
RZA, who is formerly known as Robert Diggs stated that Woof-Tang Clan falsely suggests a connection with the hip-hip group and that the name is likely to cause confusion, mistake or to deceive consumers to falsely believe the dog company is associated with the hip hop group. Court papers stated that the Woof-Tang Clan's name and logo were "unmistakably associated" with the group and that their name infringes the music group's trade marks.
When asked by the Daily News, Cuatchon refused to comment until he had been given legal advice. He has said previously that he thought he was providing a good service, and that the name for his company was a good idea as it combines his admiration for the band with the dog services his company provides.
It is not uncommon for small or start-up companies to use a play on words of famous names or brands. This case demonstrates the potential pitfalls of doing this.Posted by: in: EU/International, Trade Marks