Sugababes Fight Former Member Over Name Rights

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British band Sugababes have had more line up changes than Tiger Woods has had … golf clubs. And things came to a head over ownership of the name late last year when a former member applied for the trademark. Now the remaining ‘Babes have hit back.

Mutya Buena, a founding member back in 1998, applied to the E.U.’s trademarks authority in November 2009. But on Wednesday, the current line-up — Heidi Range, Amelle Berrabah and Jade Ewen — as well as their record company, Island Records, have filed a notice of opposition, stating that in correspondence with the European Tradesmarks Authority, “there is a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public” due to the similarity between the band and Buena.

If she were successful, it could result in Buena owning the rights to use the Sugababes brand name on the likes of CDs, DVDs and books. The band have gone through so many changes that none of the original members actually remain with Buena departing in 2005.

So perhaps it would be best to let sleeping dogs lie. Or at least look to the late Groucho Marx for inspiration. While preparing to film A Night in Casablanca, the Marx brothers received a letter from Warner Bros., who threatened legal action if they didn’t change the title, as they felt it was too similar to their own Casablanca, released five years earlier in 1942. This didn’t phase Groucho one jot …

“You claim that you own Casablanca and that no one else can use that name without permission. What about “Warner Brothers”? Do you own that too? You probably have the right to use the name Warner, but what about the name Brothers? Professionally, we were brothers long before you were.”

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