London – A British judge has rejected a bid by American nu-metal band Linkin Park to trademark its name for use on posters, leaving shopkeepers free to sell unofficial posters of music and show business personalities.
In a landmark judgment that means the band cannot sue suppliers of unauthorized posters, Judge Richard Arnold said on Tuesday that unlike merchandise such as CDs and books, a famous name appearing on a poster was purely descriptive.
“Third parties are, of course, entitled to take and exploit pictures of celebrities – the copyright in a picture of Linkin Park belongs to the creator of it and not necessarily to the group itself,” he said.
In the mind of a shopper, the name that appears on a poster indicates that the goods are related to the person or group rather than suggesting that it was supplied by them, he ruled.
The band’s lawyers had countered that it was unnecessary for a trader in posters to use the band’s name, but the judge disagreed, saying it would be difficult to deal with wholesalers or retailers without it.
“Even so far as consumers are concerned, I do not believe that the members of the group are as recognizable as, say, David Beckham – which, if it were the case, might permit posters to be sold to consumers by image alone.”