Legal battle over ukulele orchestra name

Jim Yates

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The names are nothing alike. Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and United Kingdom Ukulele Orchestra
It seems that they want to prevent anyone from calling themselves a Ukulele Orchestra. There is a group of uke players who meet in a pub in Port Hope and calls themselves The Northumberland Ukulele Orchestra. Should they be worried? Their name has as many words in common as the two groups in the article.
 

CeeJay

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Oh dear...seems like the established "Big Boys" are fearful of the new incomers and want to play silly beggars instead of doing what they do best and play Ukeleles........How far does this go? You cannot trade mark Ukelele Orchestra ...you may as well trademark ukelele and orchestra.....let's see what the new guys are like ...they will either be as good ,not as good or better , if either as good or better than the UOGB then they must raise their game.......carrying on this way will just lose them support in the GB ....now I'm off to the Ukelele Cosmos to see what those rabid dyed in the wool fans (and personal friends ) of the UOGB have to say ....
 

Ukejenny

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I've always felt like the German group has ridden the coattails of the UOGB. No matter what kind of press the German group gets, it is good press for them. They have pretty much patterned themselves after the UOGB. I've even seen publicity photos of the German group that copies the style of the UOGB. Oh well, a good rivalry will keep them all on their toes, right?
 

PeteyHoudini

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Yeah, I've known about this secondary group for years being a member of the German ukulele forum since 2009. It seems to me the consensus there was mostly negative towards the copycat group since the original did some shows in Germany and hung out for drinks with the local German ukulele players.

The German word for a copycat is: Trittbrettfahrer

Literally, the running board of an old car. Thus, you are riding on the car's sideboard getting a free ride. hehe

Petey
 
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Nickie

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All I know is, I can't wait to see the UOGB again next spring!!! This time, I will NOT be sick, and will stay and get thier autographs!
One of thier videos was what inspired me to play the uke. And I say imitation is the highest form of flattery!
 

Jon Moody

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This is a matter of brand and trademark. The judge in that case raises a good point in that if they really wanted to preserve their intellectual property behind the name Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, they should've done so right at the beginning. But their rationale is solid, and is something that every company does to preserve their brand, their intellectual property, etc..

Look up Ernie Ball Music Man guitars and basses, or Rickenbacker basses. Look and see how easily you can find copies of them on the market. Any time someone comes up with something remotely close, lawyers are on it ensuring their brand remains intact and it not diluted because of knock offs or imitators.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is a brand, well past their stage show or the instruments they play, or the merchandise they sell. They're protecting that brand, pure and simple.
 

PeteyHoudini

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The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is a brand, well past their stage show or the instruments they play, or the merchandise they sell. They're protecting that brand, pure and simple.

Well said. I'm actually very neutral on this issue but legally, they are protecting their brand, if in fact what they do, can be qualified as a brand.

Funny, before John Lennon was shot back in the 1980s, the only Beatles album we had in our house was the "Mersey Beats." I have no idea where that rubbish came from. Still, I thought they were the actual Beatles!

Petey
 

LloydAZ

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This is a matter of brand and trademark. The judge in that case raises a good point in that if they really wanted to preserve their intellectual property behind the name Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, they should've done so right at the beginning. But their rationale is solid, and is something that every company does to preserve their brand, their intellectual property, etc..

Look up Ernie Ball Music Man guitars and basses, or Rickenbacker basses. Look and see how easily you can find copies of them on the market. Any time someone comes up with something remotely close, lawyers are on it ensuring their brand remains intact and it not diluted because of knock offs or imitators.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is a brand, well past their stage show or the instruments they play, or the merchandise they sell. They're protecting that brand, pure and simple.
I have to agree with you 100%. What I get out of this isn't the fact that this other group is using the words "Ukulele Orchestra" in their name, it's more to do with the locale portion of it that makes it a bit ambiguous. If they would have called themselves "Ukulele Orchestra of Germany" I don't think it would have raised red flags anywhere.
 

Jon Moody

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Well said. I'm actually very neutral on this issue but legally, they are protecting their brand, if in fact what they do, can be qualified as a brand.

It is most definitely a brand, and a company behind it.


I have to agree with you 100%. What I get out of this isn't the fact that this other group is using the words "Ukulele Orchestra" in their name, it's more to do with the locale portion of it that makes it a bit ambiguous. If they would have called themselves "Ukulele Orchestra of Germany" I don't think it would have raised red flags anywhere.

I agree; it only becomes the issue if the name is close enough to cause confusion between the two groups.

It's not like when Old Crow Whiskey was suing the Old Crow Medicine Show for trademark infringement on the name. In this case, even though both are using the same name, no one is going to confuse a beverage with a musical group, so the case was thrown out.
 

PeteyHoudini

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It is most definitely a brand, and a company behind it.

Indeed... and I will hold off buying shares! hehe ;-)

BTW: Person of Interest season 4 is premiering tonight on CBS! Almost makes me forget ukes! hehe (for a while). :cool:

Petey
 
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VegasGeorge

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So, how come this is just getting litigated now? Seems like both orchestras have been in existence and using their respective names for some time. "Equity aids the vigilant," so there may be some issue of waiver or implied consent created by the passage of time.
 

Jon Moody

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Randy Wolfe's heirs didn't get around to suing Led Zap for swiping Stairway for 43 years ..

We're talking about two different things. In your example, what Wolfe's family did was sue Led Zep (and they weren't the only ones) for copyright infringement. And while you "should" do it quickly, in this instance they probably got more money, given how popular the band had become. Much like how the design firm sued Taco Bell for stealing their "Quiero Taco Bell?" marketing plan AFTER it was done, instead of as soon as it started.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is going after a TRADEMARK issue, which IS time-sensitive. Mainly, the big hit against them at this point (from what I've read) is that the other group has been using the name for a while. The longer that name is out there, the more they can show a record that it hasn't diluted the UOGB brand, which also implies consent.

Look at Fender. They tried to sue a lot of the major bass makers (Sadowsky, Lull, Lakland, etc..) in the late 90s/early 00s because they stole the body styles that Fender had been making famous since the beginning, citing a trademark issue. The judge ruled against Fender, citing that they had waited far too long to protect their property, citing a number of companies that have been stealing that design since the early 70s. For a trademark to hold, it has to be protected right at the beginning, every single time (again, pointing to my original post citing Ernie Ball Music Man instruments and Rickenbacker instruments).
 

CeeJay

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Yes like I really get confused about the minimal differences between the Ukelele Orchestra Of Great Britain and the The United Kingdom Ukelele Orchestra.........

I mean TUKUO and UOGB look so much the same.....and as for their schtick and dress code ...well London Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Symphony Orchestra...play same types of music,dress similar and have a mix of instruments in their band.....any way all the TUKUO have to say is ,well we're a tribute band .....UOGB will be stuffed......or a whole new can of worms will be ripped apart for the legal vultures to feed at...:D