The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band are fighting for their name

From iNews.

The band members say they are being sued after they challenged the trademark approval of the name they’ve used since the 60s

They first came to the public attention through a 1968 ITV comedy show Do Not Adjust Your Set.

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band are also known for performing Death Cab for Cutie at the end of The Beatles‘ 1967 Magical Mystery Tour film after they were personally asked to by Paul McCartney.

Now over 50 years later, the group are still going – or more accurately, they would be if it wasn’t for a legal battle over their name.

The band, whose members are now in their seventies and eighties, say they discovered two years ago that “an entity” had registered their name as a figurative trademark without their consent or knowledge.

They are now challenging the decision to grant it, because it means they will never be able to record an album or perform a concert under their name again.

The group had a number five hit in 1968 produced by Paul McCartney called I’m the Urban Spaceman (Photo: Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band)

The surviving members – who are Rodney Slater, Roger Ruskin Spear, Neil Innes, “Legs” Larry Smith and Vernon Dudley Bohay-Nowell – say they are facing a lawsuit by the trademark owner who asserts the band does not own the name and that their attempt to win it back through the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) tribunal service is a fraudulent act.

Rodney, 78, who played saxophones and other musical instruments and lives in Bedfordshire, told i: “It’s quite dreadful to go through this. It’s upsetting for everyone.

“It’s about the defining moments in your life, about your life’s work, that’s the distressing part.”

The group’s most successful single was a number five hit in 1968 called I’m the Urban Spaceman which was produced by McCartney.

Rodney revealed the trademark dispute has stopped the band touring (Photo: the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band)
Rodney revealed the trademark dispute has stopped the band touring (Photo: Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band)

Trademarks are a ‘mockery’

The IPO’s website shows a Warwickshire-based company called Anglo Atlantic Media Limited successfully registered the trademark The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band in January 2016.

The musicians, who also go under the name Bonzo Dog Band, tried to registerBonzo Dog Doo Dah Band in October 2017 but it was opposed.

Since their legal fight began, Martin Ashbetter known by the stage name Sam Spoons died in 2018.

The performers are campaigning for a change in the law to protect musician’s intellectual property and have launched a CrowdJustice page to ask for donations to help. The band, whose song Mr Slater’s Parrot was used in a 90s TV ad for Cadbury’s Mini Eggs, believe they may need up to £15,000 to fight the case.

The page states: “Under current UK legislation anyone can register a band’s name, i.e their Intellectual Property, by simply logging on to the IPO (Intellectual Property Office) website, paying a fee of £200 and ticking a box that confirms they are the owner of the name.

“The IPO does not ask applicants to provide any evidence of ownership, and unless the name has already been registered, a trademark is granted to the applicant. The next time the rightful owner decides to use the name, they can be held to ransom by the new owner.”

Jamie Pullman, London regional organiser of the Musician’s Union, said: “It appears people can register a name with no proof, making a mockery of the point of the IPO. This needs to stop, so that musicians can benefit from the fruits of their own labour.”

Rodney added: “We were meant to be going on tour but that had to have a stop put to it. We need a change in the law. This is not just about us, this shouldn’t happen to any musician.”

It’s not the first time Neil Innes, who wrote many of the songs used by Monty Python, has been involved in a legal battle about his music. He successfully sued Oasis for using his melody from How Sweet to Be an Idiot on their hit single Whatever in 1994.

IPO said it was unable to comment on individual cases that are in dispute at tribunal. It added that evidence will be examined and an application can be refused if it has been made in ‘bad faith’, that is because the person applying has no connection to the band.

Anglo Atlantic Media Limited have been approached for comment.

To donate to the appeal, visit here.

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1 Comment

  1. I feel for these guys. Yes, what is the point of the IPO if they allow this without scrutiny to ward off these repercussions? Did these individuals that took the name not check first to see if anyone used it in the past?

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