Naming a business after a lyric - copyright?

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nintynut

Free Member
Jul 17, 2019
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Hi,

I'm new to this forum, so I hope I'm doing this right.

I'm thinking of starting a business, using a name from a song lyric...

I haven't decided yet, but just as an example...

Are there any potential copyright (or similar) risks here if the word is essentially made up by the author of the song?

So if the company was called 'Zigazig-ah' - taking inspiration from "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls - could there potentially be any legal recourse here?

I hope this makes sense and I appreciate any guidance! Thanks a lot!

 

Lucan Unlordly

Free Member
Feb 24, 2009
2,544
502
Apparently............ :)

What is a Zigga zig ah?
It turns out it's short for 'sh*t and cigars'. ... He was working in the studio at the same time as the band, and when he went to the toilet he used to smoke a cigar. So, they nicknamed him 'sh*t and cigar', which eventually got shortened down by Mel when she sang, "zig-a-zig-ah".
 
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Darren_Ssc

Free Member
Mar 1, 2019
1,925
695
Apparently............ :)

What is a Zigga zig ah?
It turns out it's short for 'sh*t and cigars'. ... He was working in the studio at the same time as the band, and when he went to the toilet he used to smoke a cigar. So, they nicknamed him 'sh*t and cigar', which eventually got shortened down by Mel when she sang, "zig-a-zig-ah".

You learn something new everyday, I didn't expect it to be this though.
 
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Paulo1Chop

Free Member
Jul 12, 2019
119
12
I'd be interested to see a "proper" legal take on this from the point of view where a collection of words that just so happens to be a line in a song is breaching copyright.

Would the line have to be something that is unique to a songwriter/performer?

I suppose I'm being a little pedantic, but I'm more curious and interested!

Loving the Spice Girls insider info though...they never told us that in Spice World!!
 
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The key issue is unlikely to be copyright. Copyright infringement does take account of the amount of a work that is used. One word (even a made up one) may or may not be enough to be considered infringement.

More likely the problem would be a claim if passing off (implying a link by using a term they created and which is strongly associated).
 
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Paul Kelly ICHYB

Moderator
Business Listing
Jan 21, 2008
6,164
907
London
Needs checking, but if you were to register the name for a particular category (ideally not music related) it would probably be OK.

If you search just for the name, what sort of results (outside of song related) do you get?
 
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nintynut

Free Member
Jul 17, 2019
5
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Hi,

Thanks for your replies so far everyone! Really helpful. And learning some other interesting stuff too!

It would be a photography business. So unrelated to music.

Would only be one word, but specific to that song/artist. There would be no implied link or endorsement between the song/artist and the band.

I remember a story about Taylor Swift trying to trademark phrases from an album (I can't post the link here - sorry, but google will find it), which is perhaps why these queries come to mind.

However, I am UK based and would only realistically be working in the UK - so presumably some differences in copyright/trademark law...

All further musings and insight on this subject appreciated - you're a friendly and helpful bunch, so thanks a lot!

Worth becoming a member of FSB and making some calls?
 
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nintynut

Free Member
Jul 17, 2019
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Ha!
I'll take all advice - I'm completely new to this sort of thing.
When it comes to legal advice, can you help with that?
Would you recommend erring on the side of caution in a case like this?

*
I've just seen you can, so I will take a look at what you can offer...thank you very much!
 
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Even when you trademark something, you have to specify the exact use you’re claiming exclusivity for. As an example, I had a client who had a trademark for “Sports World”. He got irritated when someone started using the term for another niche. I went online and showed him that there were several hundred “Sports World” trademark. one for a magazine, one for a sporting goods store, one for a web site, etc.

Just because someone arranges a group of words together in a particular order doesn’t mean that they now own that order and that it cannot be used for any other purpose. If that were the case, no one could ever use “Only God knows why” without paying royalties now because Kid Rock used that line in a song.
 
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alan1302

Free Member
Jun 2, 2018
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That's a fair point.
However the word I'm looking at is made up by the artist.
So it's not combining some regular words...It's a word that I guess they could technically claim to have invented. Any difference? Does that make sense?

Thanks

Unless you are wanting your brand to have association with the Spice Girls why would you use that word?
 
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That's a fair point.
However the word I'm looking at is made up by the artist.
So it's not combining some regular words...It's a word that I guess they could technically claim to have invented. Any difference? Does that make sense.
The answer to your question is yes/no/maybe. Unfortunately no one, not even a lawyer, can give you a simple 100% guaranteed answer. The reason is that copyright cases don't rest just on what you do, they rest on why the court thinks you did it, the way in which you did it, the way in which what you did affects the creator of the IP and a host of other possible complications.

For example, if I photograph a bus on Westminster bridge my photo is protected by copyright. You can't legally photocopy my photo or take it from my website and use it, without my permission. However you can go to Westminster bridge and take a similar photograph of a bus without infringing my copyright...... unless you have an existing business agreement with me to license my image and (the court believes) you are now creating yours in order to avoid paying me my license fee. - it is entirely possible for what you actually do not to be infringement but why you do it makes it infringement.

Or to put it another way... only a court can decide. If you use this word and your venture is successful then it is likely the creator will find out. Given that they earn their living from their intellectual property it is quite likely that they will seek to protect it from misuse by taking legal action.

So, is this word worth the time and (large) expense of a legal battle?
 
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OhhEnnEmm

Free Member
Nov 6, 2018
57
5
I remember a story about Taylor Swift trying to trademark phrases from an album (I can't post the link here - sorry, but google will find it), which is perhaps why these queries come to mind.

I know what you're on about...

"This Sick Beat" :D

I remember seeing that when it happened and thinking how much of a bellend she is!

Difficult territory though, I think if it was just a hint you might be alright, anything obvious like ziga zig ar etc. Would probably lead to issues if your business went large...

I'm not an expert on intellectual property though!
 
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