Punk Band Misfits Issues Trademark C&D To 'Punk Rock Flea Market,' Receives C&D From Flea Market In Return
from the I've-got-something-to-say/I-sent-a-C&D-today dept
Here's a fun trademark tiff involving a "punk rock" flea market and the shambling, barely-reanimated corpse of a legendary band. [via Techdirt reader Cheyenne Hohman]
The Misfits were an influential punk rock band -- one that dipped heavily into the murky waters of horror and featured lead singer Glenn Danzig, whose deep bellowing voice overshadowed his lifelong dream to grow up when he grew up. Over the years, the band has split and reformed multiple times when not lobbing the occasional lawsuit at each other. As it stands now, not a single original band member remains in the lineup, with bassist Jerry Only being the only long-running connection between various band mutations.
So, the Misfits who take the stage now are just basically a bunch of guys. But still as litigious as the people they replaced, apparently.
The Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market had some flyers made by a friend. Somehow, the font used drew the attention of the Misfits' lawyer, who sent them a cease-and-desist. The letter, from Cyclopian Music, accused the flea market of using the "Misfits Horror Font" without permission (stating the usual trademark registrations and claims of "false representation") and ordered them to knock it off by March 3rd.
Here's the font in question, used in its "approved" form (note the little ® at the end).
And here's the font used by long-running (but now defunct) horror movie mag, Monsters of Filmland, as pointed out by a commenter on the Trenton Punk Flea Market's post.
Quite a bit of resemblance there, and considering the magazine began its print run long before the Misfits formed, there's a bit of a question about who ripped off who -- especially considering the band's fascination with horror. That's really neither here nor there, but it does go to show that the font isn't so unique that it should only be considered property of the Misfits.
The flea market has agreed to stop using the font going forward, but it has issued some demands of its own to the Misfits' label and legal representation. It's the next best thing to setting the demand letter on fire and dropping it on Cyclopian Music's most flammable spot of carpet. (Emphasis added to all the best parts.)
There are… a number of issues that we would like to address regarding the intellectual property of Cyclopian Music, Inc., which has the exclusive right to publicly perform and record as the MISFITS, now that we have been given a legal forum to do so. Our assertions are as follows:The letter is signed "Andres Esteban Todascasa, Esq.," Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market's "lead counsel." Below is an undated file photo of Todacasas:
1.) It is our position that we find it hard to grasp the concept that we have absconded with intellectual property when the MISFITS, as currently constituted, represent an entity of almost no inherent value.
2.) That the value of the MISFITS intellectual property has been irrevocably damaged by a failure of the members and employees of Cyclopian Music, Inc., to cease and desist performing and recording as the MISFITS when its current iteration bears almost no resemblance to the version of the MISFITS that the majority of its supporters are familiar with, and that these iterations represent a willful subversion of the rights of the consumer to remove any and all memory of these iterations from their collective transoms.
3.) That the failure of Cyclopian Music, Inc. to cease and desist performing and recording as the MISFITS is the driving force behind the devaluation of the intellectual property that they own and maintain, and that the total of that devaluation dwarfs any losses that have been or would have been experienced due to infringements of the their intellectual property.
4.) That ANY iteration of the MISFITS that does not employ the talents of one Glenn Allen Anzalone, also known as Glenn Danzig is a complete and utter misrepresentation of the MISFITS intellectual property and should be discontinued immediately.
The Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market protects and enforces the rights of punk rock music fans everywhere to enjoy the music of bands like the MISFITS, without being subjected to iterations of these bands that bear little to no resemblance to the originals. Subsequently, the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Markets will give Cyclopian Music, Inc. one hundred and thirty-eight (138) days to respond to the assertions made in this letter.
Does Cyclopian Music have the right to pursue perceived misuses of its "Misfits Horror Font?" Sure. Just as it has the exclusive right to throw random groups of musicians together and call them the "Misfits." Should it have gone after a flea market for allegedly using "its" font for a post-flea market party at a local venue? Probably not. It's not the sort of thing that might cause the USPTO to consider Cyclopian Music no longer worthy of its protections.
Sure, it managed to make the flea market both cease and desist, but in the process, its already-meagre reputation in the eyes of punk fans sunk even lower. And it gave an entity that does appear to have the respect of the fans Cyclopian would like to add to its revenue stream an opportunity to very publicly bash it for turning the Misfits into an unintentional satire of "milk it til it's dry" labelnomics for the last decade.
Finally, here's some classic Misfits, recorded in 1978 but not released until nearly two decades later.