Media giant Vice Media have issued a cease and desist letter to an LA-based indie band, ViceVersa.
The letter argues that the band is “infringing on the exclusive rights held by Vice Media in the VICE® Mark” and is “likely to confuse consumers as to the source of services offered under [ViceVersa’s] mark, and wrongly implies that Vice Media sponsors, endorses or is otherwise affiliated with [ViceVersa].”
The letter, dated December 2015, came one month after the United States Patent and Trademark Office had given provisional approval to an application by ViceVersa’s guitarist, Christopher Morales, to trademark “ViceVersa.”
A series of demands are made in the correspondence, including that the band immediately stop using the name “ViceVersa”, take down its website and social media pages and stop selling merchandise bearing the ViceVersa name.
If the demands are not met, the letter says that Morales could face “claims for injunctive relief and monetary damages.”
Say ViceVersa in a statment: “[the band] has never claimed to be affiliated or supported by Vice Media. A name change and complete brand makeover could potentially set the band back thousands of dollars and gravely harm their growing fan base and social media presence.”
ViceVersa’s attorney, Harry Finkel, has said that letters of this nature are common and that Vice Media had not responded to a letter from him offering to change the language in Morales’ trademark application. Vice have, however, filed a letter of opposition to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, asking that ViceVersa’s trademark application be denied.
When contacted for comment by Huffington Post, a Vice Media spokesperson said that ViceVersa’s trademark application “overlaps with the scope of our already existing federal trademark. This is a standard, cut-and-dry trademark matter and we are not involved in litigation with this band.”
Morales has said that the band can barely pay their rent, but had started to make headway in their career. “This is our life and dream,” he is quoted as saying. “All we want to do is rock out.”
ViceVersa have made a video comparing their logo to that of Vice Media. You can watch it below. The band have also decided to fight the demands made in the cease and desist letter and have started a Gofundme campaign to help with legal costs. You can read more and donate to the fund here.
“The current support that we have received in the press is giving us the belief that not only can we do this but that its our duty to stand up for ourselves and for every other indie artist out there,” the band say.