A trademark is a symbol that distinguishes the commercial origin of a product or service. In the music and film industries, trademarks have become profitable.
The entertainment industry’s two main industries – music and cinema – are the world’s rising large marketplaces, with significant revenues. When a legal issue arises, the protection of commercial rights and interest in a song or picture title is critical.
The paradigm shift around intellectual property concerns plays a key part in numerous trademark difficulties, such as deceptively similar song/film names, illegal use of film titles falling under the purview of trademark infringement, and passing off remedies. This study examines the possible applicability of Indian and US trademark law to the music and film industries, with an emphasis on current legal concerns.
A trademark, sometimes known as a service mark, is a symbol that differentiates one company’s goods and services from those of another. A band’s name is its brand in the music industry, and as such, it can be protected as a service mark. The Grateful Dead, Aerosmith, and REM are just a few examples of bands having trademarks. Bands can also file trademarks for their records, t-shirts, and any other goods they create. A trademark gives a band the exclusive right to use its name and entertainment services, as well as more control over its image. Obtaining a trademark can assist in securing new revenue streams through licensing and merchandising agreements.
A trademark gives a band the exclusive right to use its name and entertainment services, as well as more control over its image. Obtaining a trademark can assist in securing new revenue streams through licensing and merchandising agreements. Song titles are not usually eligible for trademark protection, although they may be if they are linked with merchandise or if they are part of a series of works. The Slants, an Asian-American rock band with an unusual name, have won a major win in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
What is the role of Trademark registration in the entertainment industry?
- The entertainment sector has been compelled to pick trademark protection due to an increase in trademark infringement. Because it is important in protecting intangible assets such as song titles, movie titles, motion pictures, and brand names, it gives creators peace of mind.
- In the entertainment sector, the value of a trademark cannot be overstated. The band name or artist name is the most significant quality since it gives the original author a distinct identity. The artist’s name is an uncommon kind of identification, and it is the sole thing that characterizes an artist in the minds of the public.
- Such registration is invalid; nevertheless, in the event of an official disagreement, the court may allow the applicant to submit the same. Motion picture tiles are protected by Trademark Class 41 of the fourth schedule of the Trademark Rule, 2001, which mandates that services defined as entertainment be covered.
- When an artist or band associates a song with a certain brand name or a song title, that artist or band gains original value.
- Various organizations, such as the Association of Television Programs and Motion Pictures or any Indian motion picture producer’s alliance, give reasonable protection to film titles against infringement under the Infringement Act through registration.
- There is no doubt that trademark registration is critical for musicians and filmmakers in the entertainment sector.
Trademark law in the film and music industry
The titles of albums, movies, songs, and other works can be protected under the Trademark Law in certain circumstances. The title and name should be unique and creative. Common or descriptive titles are unlikely to be protected. Another need is that they must have acquired secondary significance. In the case of film names or titles, a single film’s title cannot be patented since it is an unaltered and restricted work, but a series’ title, such as Money Heist, can be.
Under the worldwide universal categorization criteria, they can be registered under Trademark Class 41, which includes “Entertainment,” and Trademark Class 9, which includes “Apparatus for recording, reproduction, or transmission of pictures or sounds.”
Protection of Trademark to Motion Picture Titles in India
- Every year, the Indian entertainment business earns a large amount of cash by releasing a large number of films around the country. Bollywood is the largest contributor to the entertainment industry, releasing more films each year than its international competitors.
- In 2001, India’s entertainment business was given the status of the industry, and it has seen tremendous progress in terms of legitimacy and growth since then. Increased recognition has assisted them in retaining the backing of international investors and players like 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, and others.
- The transformation is remarkable, but the industry’s rapid expansion has pushed it into an area where its survival is in jeopardy due to rising IP issues and infringement actions. Piracy has grown as a result of a lack of appropriate security, and it has now become a major disincentive to the film industry.
- Trademark registration in the entertainment industry, on the other hand, can assist filmmakers in fending off such attacks.
Protection of Song Title – Trademark Registration in Entertainment Industry
- Copyright protection is only available to a song’s producer if the song’s title is an integral component of the work. Because a song’s title is linked to the original work, it may be protected under the Trademark Act of 1999. Songwriters in India still utilize trademark or copyright registration on a limited basis.
- The application was denied, and Sony Music Entertainment was unable to obtain the necessary protection. Trademark protection under Trademark Classes 9 and 41 gives the film title legal protection as well as advantages from the production of cassettes and compact discs, among other things.
- There is a flutter on which the law needs to explain since there is little clarity on song title protection.
- Another difficulty with the protection is that if the trademark is not used for 5 years, it will lose its validity.
What is the Purpose of Trade Dress Protection in India?
Trade dress is a subset of trademark law that refers to a product’s or service’s entire “look and feel.” Clients can identify the product’s source or origin based on the final representation and look of the product or service. The Trademarks Act of 1999 aligned Indian trademark law with international norms. The revised Trade Mark Act, 1999 extended the scope of the Trademark definition to include all components of Trade dress as stated under the Lanham Act, even though it does not offer a distinct definition of Trade dress.
Defending Fictional Characters and Film Titles
Titles of fictitious characters can be registered as trademarks if they are also the names of movies or television shows. Trademarks such as Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Harry Potter, and others are all registered. As a result, character commercialization needs a Trademark owner’s permission.
In India, the Film & Television Producers’ Guild of India (FTPGI), IMPPA (Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association), and WIFPA (Western India Film Producers’ Association) are all frequent places to register film titles. A thorough check is carried out among these businesses to discover if a title is identical or deceptively similar to one of the registered. Registration of film titles or names with such agencies merely establishes primacy in using the title and has no bearing on judicial actions.
Analyzing the aforementioned judgments opens up a new dimension by providing a fresh interpretation of the Trademarks Act, 1999. The Indian judiciary should better equip itself to cope with concerns relating to the entertainment sector and trademark protection, as well as give suitable solutions to the problems. Similarly, the producer’s lack of creativity in naming a film also applies to song titles and lyrics.
This should be avoided, and a proper balance should be given to musicians and filmmakers who want to protect their work as a trademark, because any new concept or idea for a song or a film is immediately associated in the minds of the audience, and trademarks play a key role in brand building business on developing instruments and sound systems by bringing music closer.
Trademark registration is very important in the entertainment sector since it protects expensive film productions and music recordings. The Trademark Act of 1999, which is on par with international trademark laws, is applied less generously in the entertainment sector. In terms of movie or picture names, as well as song titles, uniqueness should be encouraged, with no space for duplicity. As a vehicle for brand building, trademarks should be properly protected.