Rolling Stone reports that actress and singer Scarlett Johansson’s new band, The Singles, has received a cease and desist letter from an old band, The Singles, unsurprisingly alleging trademark infringement. According to Vincent Frederick, frontman of the old Singles, his group has been using the Singles name for sixteen years, whereas Johansson’s group debuted just this month. Unmentioned in the article is the fact that Johansson’s band owns a pending U.S. trademark application, filed in 2012, for the mark THE SINGLES. Frederick’s group can likely claim common law trademark rights in its name, but the group does not appear to have taken any steps to secure formal trademark registration of its name. If the earlier group had registered THE SINGLES as a trademark sixteen years ago, the registration would now be incontestable, and would likely have prevented the newer group’s application from even passing the substantive examination stage. An incontestable registration would also be a considerably more formidable weapon against Johansson’s band, or any other junior user of THE SINGLES as a band name.
This story serves as a cautionary example of why bands and other performers should always formally register their stage names as trademarks at the earliest opportunity, as well as why performers should always conduct a full trademark search prior to adopting a stage name. Registration also confers exclusive rights to the mark throughout the United States, which makes it possible for a band that, for example, only performs in California and Nevada to prevent the use of a confusingly similar name by another band that only performs in New York and New Jersey. Many, if not most musicians understand the importance of copyright law to a successful musical career, but far fewer appear to fully appreciate the critical role that trademark law can play in protecting their professional identities, reputations, and livelihoods. Read the full article here, and listen to Johansson's new single here. Reposted from Rolling Stone.