HGF acts in successful invalidity action for Love Music Hate Racism

July 2018

HGF has acted successfully for Love Music Hate Racism Ltd (LMHR) in its attempt to cancel a trade mark registered by one of its associated merchandising suppliers. In a decision handed down on 1st June 2018, the UK Intellectual Property Office has declared that a registration of the mark Love Music Hate Racism belonging to Mr Chetan Patel was made in bad faith. The UKIPO has declared Mr Patel’s registration invalid. The Office has also dismissed an opposition by Mr Patel to a trade mark application for LOVE MUSIC HATE RACISM made by LMHR.

Love Music Hate Racism is the name of an Association formed in 2002 to campaign against racism by means of music and other events. A number of artists with a global reputation, including Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Stormzy have supported the campaign, and have worn T-Shirts displaying the Association’s name / slogan. The Association has been involved in hundreds of music events over the past 15 years. The Association’s funding comes mainly from sales of merchandise displaying the Love Music Hate Racism name.

Over the years, the Association has used a number of different businesses to produce merchandising for it. Unbeknown to it at the time, back in 2010 a businessman behind one of the merchandising companies made an application in his own name to register Love Music Hate Racism as a trade mark. The registration came to light in early 2017 as various record labels were looking to partner with the Love Music Hate Racism Association. Jonathan Thurgood, a Trade Mark Attorney and Partner in HGF was approached by LMHR for advice and assistance in dealing with this registration. Jonathan has particular expertise in principal/agent and manufacturer/distributor disputes regarding ownership of trade marks, having acted for the winning side in the Dalsouple trade mark dispute, which ended in a High Court victory for the UK distributor - [2014] EWHC 3963 (Ch).

A hearing in LMHR’s case was held in late March 2018, where the owner of the challenged registration was cross-examined by barrister Guy Tritton of Hogarth Chambers. During cross-examination, Mr Patel admitted that events held under the Love Music Hate Racism banner had been going since 2002, and that even before his own involvement, the Association had sold t-shirts and other merchandise to boost income to support the Love Music Hate Racism campaign. By the time the parties became involved in 2007, the Association had already become well known in respect of musical events. The largest of these events, a Victoria Park Carnival in April 2008, was attended by over 10,000 people.

The UKIPO dismissed Mr Patel’s assertion that an Association member had known about and consented to his registration.

Clare Moseley, a director of LMHR, states, “We are absolutely delighted with Jonathan’s excellent work.  While we have always felt that the substance of the case was clear, there were certain subjective elements that complicated the process.  His commitment and clear guidance were very much appreciated”.

Mike Simons, one of the long-standing organisers with the Love Music Hate Racism Association declared, “We are grateful to Jonathan Thurgood and his colleagues at HGF for their advice and support during this long and frustrating process. No one should be able to profit personally from a campaign against a demonstrable evil in our society. With this judgement we can make sure that every penny raised by Love Music Hate Racism goes to the purpose for which it was given”.

Jonathan Thurgood comments, “The UKIPO’s decision is plainly right.  Justice has eventually been done here. The decision sends a message that people are not entitled to go around registering other people’s trade marks without clear agreement. The Love Music Hate Racism Association depends on its merchandising revenue to sustain its campaigning activity. Without the rights to control its name in the merchandising field, its campaigning activity would be jeopardised. Mr Patel thought that the rights to the name should be split. That is clearly an untenable position for LMHR. The UKIPO’s decision serves to ensure that LMHR can continue its campaigning activity without the threat that its own sources of funding would be cut off”.

This update was prepared by HGF Partner Jonathan Thurgood.  If you would like further advice on this or any other matter please contact Jonathan or your usual HGF representative, alternatively visit our Contact Page to get in touch with your nearest HGF office.