One Direction may be forced to change band name
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Wednesday 11 April 2012
Could One Direction be forced into a dramatic U-turn? The British boyband taking the world by storm has run into a roadblock after a small Californian band slapped them with a multi-million dollar lawsuit. That band’s name? One Direction.
The British and Irish popstars, who rose to prominence on The X Factor in 2010 and were signed by Simon Cowell, have topped the charts in a series of countries including America, Australia and Italy. Yet Niall, Zayn, Liam, Louis and Harry have a battle on their hands if they want to keep singing under the One Direction name.
Lawyers for the US band are attempting to block Cowell’s Syco Entertainment and Sony Music from using the One Direction name in its promotional materials, and have filed a lawsuit in the California Central District Court.
The court documents clam the Americans are entitled to three times the profits made by the British band and damages worth over $1m. They have recorded two albums since forming One Direction in late 2009 and claim that Syco and Sony Music “chose to ignore the plaintiff’s rights and wilfully infringed them” after realising the two bands shared the name.
The court papers were filed on Monday, and also revealed that the US band had applied to trademark the name in February 2011 before their UK rivals.
One Direction UK made a huge splash, with their debut album which went in at number two in the British charts. The march on America also proved staggeringly successful as they became the first British pop group to debut at the top of the charts with their debut album.
Up All Night beat the previous best British performance in America from The Spice Girls, which went straight in at number six in 1997, selling 176,000 copies in just one week. The album topped the charts in a total of six countries around the world.
The boys were mobbed on their first television appearance in the US, with 10,000 fans turning up to Rockefeller Plaza in New York. The promotional tour has since taken them to Australia, where they have also been met by hysterical crowds. Simon Cowell said the success of his charges was “an incredible achievement. They deserve it.”
The band also has over 2.8 million followers on Twitter many of whom took to the social networking site to express their displeasure over One Direction US’s move to force their heroes to change the band’s name.
Their US counterparts have not been quite so successful. They are also a five-man band put together by Sean O’Leary but rather than sell out international tours, they play in local fairs and bars. O’Leary started playing music after listening to Blink-182 and put together the band from friends at school.
He said on One Direction US’s website: “I plan on making music for the rest of my life no matter what! I do my best, I work hard, treat people the way I would like to be treated and believe if I really want this dream, I can do it! :). When all you see is up… there is only ONE DIRECTION to get there!!!”
The band’s lawyer Peter Ross told The Hollywood Reporter said the morning show Today mistakenly played one of its songs to introduce the UK band.
What's in a name?
* This is not Simon Cowell’s first run in with name clashes. Last year The X Factor girl group Rythmix had to change their name as it was already taken by a music charity going for Little Mix.
* Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons named their big beat duo the Dust Brothers in 1991. The American producers of the same name who worked with the Beastie Boys were unimpressed and threatened the pair with a lawsuit forcing them to come up with The Chemical Brothers instead.
* Nirvana, the Seattle grunge band fronted by Kurt Cobain, was forced to settle a case brought by a UK band of the same name. The terms were not disclosed but allowed both to carry on using the name.
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