A History Lesson
The year was 2002. We were walking on water and building castles in the sky. Well, I was anyway. What a time to be alive.
If I've lost you, let me fill you in. Castles in the Sky was a big dance music hit from 2002 (two weeks at number 1 in the Scottish Top 40 if you can believe such dizzying heights). You can check out the video for it at the bottom of this post. The artist behind this musical masterpiece was "Ian Van Dahl".
That would be pretty much all I have to say about Ian Van Dahl except for a filing with the European Intellectual Property Office I spotted today. That filing was an opposition to a trademark application for "Ian Van Dahl". And there, my friends and dance music aficionados, is where the plot thickens!
Who is Ian Van Dahl?
Well according to the trademark opposition (which you can view in full here) Ian Van Dahl was actually a group.
The opposition states:
"The opponent [Christophe Chantzis] created Ian Van Dahl in 1999.
Despite of what it sounds like, “Ian Van Dahl” is not a real person, but the name of a musical project. The Opponent chose the name “Ian Van Dahl” as a variation on ‘Jan Modaal’. Jan Modaal is a Dutch expression referring to a completely average person. Similar terms in the English language are Average Joe, Ordinary Joe, Average Jane, etc.
The Opponent considered himself as an average boy making music and trying to conquer the world from his home studio. To give the project a cooler look, he decided to write the name as Ian Van Dahl, in line with the greater DJ’s of that time named Niels van Gogh, Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk."
What about the Singer?
The singer is Annemie Coenen. She was actually the third singer in Ian Van Dahl, but more or less became the face of the group when she joined in 2002. According to the opposition:
"For marketing reasons, the record company decided to profile Annemie Coenen’s face on the visual material (Album and Single cover, announcements etc. of Ian Van Dahl). The reason why the Opponent was not profiled as the face of Ian Van Dahl, was because the record company found it commercially more interesting to expose a young beautiful woman as front woman."
Who applied for the Trademark?
Well, as I'm sure you've gathered already NOT the guy who says he is Ian Van Dahl.
Actually, it was applied for by HITT BVBA. This is where it all gets very 'Eastenders' and dramatic.
Again, from the opposition:
"HITT BVBA is a Belgian management, booking and production company (hereinafter: the Defendant), constituted in 2005. The domain name www.hitt.be is registered on 1 st July 2007 by the Defendant.
Stijn Wouters - the founder and present CEO of HITT BVBA – previously was an employee of the record company A&S where he was employed as assistant manager for the project Ian Van Dahl. In this capacity, Stijn Wouters had all the information, passwords, login codes etc. to access every platform related to Ian Van Dahl.
In 2008, Annemie Coenen decided to leave Ian Van Dahl. According to her, she didn’t want to be seen as the mere vocalist of Ian Van Dahl anymore, but wanted to brand herself as an independent artist.
She invented the artist name AnnaGrace, and engaged the Defendant for management and booking services"
Bad Faith Registration
If you haven't already seen it, just last week I posted THIS POST about a bad faith registration involving the estate of Bruce Lee. That's part of what's being claimed in this opposition.
I'm including the opponent's submission on bad faith registration it as is, because I don't think I could do the angst justice. Double exclamation marks in a legal submission, more of that I say!!
But Seriously Folks
I, as is my won't, have been very facetious in this post. However, this happens a lot in the entertainment industry. It tends to become a big issue when one member of a band leaves, and there's a big spat about who owns the name. Just last week former KISS guitarist VINNIE VINCENT filed a trademark application for 'Vinnie Vincent's Kiss'.
Whether you're a dance music producer, rockstar or business owner, not applying for and registering your brand is always a risk. Yes, it might be fine. Yes, nobody else may be bothered trying. But maybe, 16 years after you spend 2 weeks at number one in the charts in Scotland, your former singer will apply for a trademark for a name you say is yours and some sarcastic IP lawyer in Dublin will write a blog post about it. Is that a chance you want to take?? WELL IS IT??
If not call Brian Conroy (the sarcastic IP Lawyer) today - 00 353 1 6393000
For marketing reasons, the record company decided to profile Annemie Coenen’s face on the visual material (Album and Single cover, announcements etc. of Ian Van Dahl). The reason why the Opponent was not profiled as the face of Ian Van Dahl, was because the record company found it commercially more interesting to expose a young beautiful woman as front woman.