from the oh-great dept
A while back, we wrote about the hilariously bullying cease and desist notice Vice Media, a billion dollar media company, sent to ViceVersa, an un-signed punk band. At issue, according to Vice Media, was the band’s name and trademark application, both of which the media company declared would damage its own brand and confuse customers. Neither of those claims was remotely true, but they bullied in the way that only bullies can.
Which brings us to the present, where we learn the good news that Vice Media has settled with the band over the dispute.
Today, both parties reached a settlement over the trademark dispute. Reached for comment, a Vice spokesperson said: “We’re glad this worked out for both parties, and we wish the band the best of luck.”
This is where most of the folks reading this news will breathe a sigh of relief that sanity has been reached and everyone has walked away from this whole thing amicably and whole. Which is partly true. But not entirely. Check out the band’s statement through its lawyer.
In a statement, ViceVersa’s lawyer wrote: “After a few weeks of negotiations, the two parties have come to an amicable agreement. Changes have been made to the band’s trademark details as registered with the USPTO, thus narrowing the scope of their services. ViceVersa will continue using their name and logo as they please and Vice Media will go about their $2.5 billion business.”
If you can’t hear the disdain dripping in that statement, your brain needs a tune up. And it’s not difficult to understand why that disdain would be there. After all, even if we assume that there was no monetary requirement for this settlement, even if we recognize that the band will be able to continue using its name, and even if the only minor changes were needed to the band’s trademark paperwork to keep it as narrow as possible…what did Vice Media give up as part of this “settlement?”
Nothing. The claim that the band’s name was infringing in any way was not a valid claim, so the band’s continued use of it is not a concession by Vice Media. Nothing in the band’s original trademark application would have covered anything that would have confused any customers anywhere that an indie punk band was somehow also part of Vice Media. In other words: since Vice Media’s claims were total bullshit, giving up on any part of those claims isn’t a concession, whereas the band’s concessions were minor but very real.
Bullying works, in other words. By virtue of its size, Vice Media was able to work its will on a small indie punk band just because it could. Don’t be fooled by the settlement into thinking it was just.