X Factor vs Charity
October 10, 2011 1:06 AM   Subscribe

Is all publicity good publicity? Rhythmix is a UK music charity that works with vulnerable young people. The name is trademarked. Rhythmix is a band created last week by the X Factor in the UK. Sim Co want to trademark it. The show seems to believe all publicity is good publicity. The Charity says "it is obviously wildly inappropriate, whatever the legalities, for a group on the X Factor to share the name of a charity working with bereaved young people, young people with learning difficulties, young people in prison". The show admits it knew about the Charity, but went ahead anyway. The Internet is annoyed.
posted by RegMcF (30 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
As Wilde observed, "the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

I think that holds in this case as well and how better to continue to have people talking about you than to protest about people talking about you.
posted by three blind mice at 1:18 AM on October 10, 2011


Rhythmix giving it their all. Which is your favorite?
posted by longsleeves at 1:28 AM on October 10, 2011


On the one hand, I would think Mark Davyd's wrong (first link) about forming a band called 'Shelter', as it's a word with far wider usages and associations than just the housing charity; on the other, this name is far more distinctive and I can well believe the TV company would behave as arrogantly as reported.
The Kent News article cites some actual instances of it impacting the expectations of the young people the charity is helping; if that's even partly true you would expect a better response from X Factor, even if the charity's claims seem wild at first blush.
Great use of the "X" tag! :p
posted by Abiezer at 1:31 AM on October 10, 2011


I would be annoyed if I were the charity too.

I'd also be annoyed if I were Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:18 AM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Someone should start a wildly inappropriate website called X Factor. Something fetish-porn related, I'm thinking.
posted by chomarui at 2:19 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or a show called Fox Factor, where you compete in using your position and influence to put lots of money the way of your best mate/best man, then try to lie convincingly about it.
posted by Abiezer at 3:06 AM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't really know that much about the X Factor or SyCo or SimCo or Simon Cowell, but they all smell kinda fishy and feel kinda slimy to me. Just a smarmy vibe around all that creepy shit, you know?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:12 AM on October 10, 2011


The band should be forced to change their name to Dick Move.
posted by Eideteker at 3:33 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is especially inappropriate considering that the X-factor spends a major part of the early episodes of each season humiliating and taking advantage of delusional, mentally ill, and learning disabled people for cheap laughs. Everyone involved with producing that programme is complete scum.
posted by cilantro at 3:43 AM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'd also be annoyed if I were Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart.

U Rhythmix?
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:45 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the example of Nordoff Robbins is much better - X Factor wouldn't do this to Nordoff Robbins because they wouldn't get away with it. It seems like he said Shelter because that's tied into the Rage Against the X Factor campaign (the money went to Shelter). Either way, it's frankly bizarre that somebody in production at the programme searched for the word Rhythmix, found the Charity, and rather than thinking "oh, better not use that" thought "I wonder how we can work around the existence of the music charity that works with disabled kids to keep this name". It's a shit name for a band anyway. And I agree with cilantro - it's actually a bit sick.
posted by RegMcF at 3:55 AM on October 10, 2011


Storm in a tea cup, much?

In 6 months time no-one will remember that Rhythmix were ever a 'pop-group' but this charity will still be doing its great work. (Girl groups never do well on this show.) Syco are used to playing the bad-guy in situations like this. Hopefully they'll kiss and make up when Syco make a generous donation to the charity.
posted by I_read_somewhere_that_. . . at 4:07 AM on October 10, 2011


I_read_somewhere_that_, the charity outlines in their statement the complications the name issue is causing:
“We have spent five years ensuring that young people have a clear idea of what their involvement with the Rhythmix project is about; what goals we set, what their potential with us is, what the outcome will be. We are now dealing with questions like ‘will we be on telly then’” and ‘are they coming then?’
posted by ukdanae at 4:10 AM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Someone should start a wildly inappropriate website called X Factor.

I'm not going to look, but I would not be surprised to find a website called "XXX Factor"
posted by DreamerFi at 4:14 AM on October 10, 2011


Prediction: the band changes their name to Habitat.
posted by inturnaround at 5:17 AM on October 10, 2011


The charity should get a lawyer. This is a slam-dunk trademark infringement case.
posted by localroger at 5:20 AM on October 10, 2011


The charity should get a lawyer. This is a slam-dunk trademark infringement case.
Is it? I am not a lawyer, but I thought that trademarks were only valid within specific scopes. For example, if X Factor wanted to start up a children's charity, trademark law would prevent them from naming it Rythmix.
posted by Flunkie at 5:25 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not defending that awful show, but I'd never heard of the charity Rhythmix before now... There's no way this hurts the charity, and the publicity is only going to help them, so I hope they don't waste resources suing.

Now if x-factor starts actually helping people by forming a charity, THAT'S when you sue the pants off them... wait...
posted by Huck500 at 5:58 AM on October 10, 2011


As per the posting - is all publicity always good publicity? Seems to me like the show and the charity have very very different aims. Why would the charity want to be represented by X Factor? And if X Factor put them in the papers, does that necessarily mean they get donations and money? And do they get money from X Factor? I think the jury is out on this one.... I personally wouldn't want to associated with the show whatever I was doing.
posted by RegMcF at 6:20 AM on October 10, 2011


Its almost as if the X-factor is nothing but a publicity machine that deliberatley uses cynically manufactured "controversy" stories to get more media attention in outlets that would not normally cover TV talent shows (like, say, metafilter) at the expense of vulnerable people. :rolleyes:
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 6:30 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


No-one would call a band Nordoff Robbins or Shelter

Well, nobody except Ray Cappo, anyway.
posted by dersins at 7:05 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Its almost as if the X-factor is nothing but a publicity machine that deliberatley uses cynically manufactured "controversy" stories to get more media attention in outlets that would not normally cover TV talent shows (like, say, metafilter) at the expense of vulnerable people.


Really? I always thought it was just Simon Cowell overcompensating for his terrible, terrible haircut.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:28 AM on October 10, 2011


I am not a lawyer, but I thought that trademarks were only valid within specific scopes. For example, if X Factor wanted to start up a children's charity, trademark law would prevent them from naming it Rythmix.

IANAL either, and what I do know about trademarks is US law so I don't know if UK trademark law works the same way, but my understanding was that it makes a difference whether the trademark is a pre-existing word (which would be limited in scope as you describe) or a completely made-up one. E.g., you could open "Apple Auto Parts Store" but not "Microsoft Auto Parts Store." "Rhythmix" seems to be the latter.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:09 AM on October 10, 2011


I'm not going to look, but I would not be surprised to find a website called "XXX Factor"

I'm looking forward to the Simon Cowell.

"That. Was. Rubbish. Really. My penis just...lost interest halfway through. Work on your kegels, and then come back. Maybe."
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:52 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Prediction: X-factor changes the name of their thing to "Qwikster," which I hear is available.
posted by rhizome at 9:32 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The CX of the charity is strutting about the moral high ground a bit much for my taste. But he is right that this is going to cause problems for his charity, and that the best thing to do would be to change the name of the band. It matters to the charity because they have worked to build that brand. It matters far less to the band because they are not yet established and can choose pretty much any string of letters and numbers and build a national profile through the show (if they are any good). I thought it was meant to be a singing contest, after all. Their future does not rest on the name.

@Rhizome - I actually think "Rhizome" would be a pretty good name
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 9:42 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The charity should get a lawyer. This is a slam-dunk trademark infringement case.

No localroger, it is not. And I speak as an English lawyer qualified in intellectual property law.

As Flunkie has noted, trade marks have to be registered in specific classes (defined in the Nice Classification). You can register in multiple classes, but you have to pay for each class and you will probably need to show ongoing and more than nominal use in each class.

It is possible to claim for trade mark infringement beyond the registered class or classes, but you have to show that your mark is so distinctive and has such a reputation that any use of it is likely to be associated with you. It's not at all clear that the charity here does have such a high reputation (I'd never heard of it until this fuss blew up.) A similar argument applies to a claim for Passing Off (i.e. unfair trading on existing business reputation).

In this case there might be an argument under European trade mark law (which UK TM law is now closely based on) that the use of a charity's name is against the public interest, but again it's far from a straightforward decision.

So no, not a slam dunk at all.
posted by Major Clanger at 10:03 AM on October 10, 2011


Well Major Clanger I'm American and from what I know in our system DevilsAdvocate is right, and no matter what business you are in you will have difficulty if you name it Kodak or Xerox. Rhythmix is not a common word, X-factor's infringment is already causing demonstrable confusion (the crux of many trademark disputes), and both the charity and the show are using music to promote themselves so the.

Whether it's a slam dunk or not they should talk to a lawyer. Maybe it's not, but it should be and probably would be on this side of the Atlantic.
posted by localroger at 10:09 AM on October 10, 2011


@Huck500 - that you have never heard of the charity and that you know of them now isn't really relevant or helpful to the charity - having the name you work under (such as your trading name) used by someone else makes operating much harder. With every campaign under the name your brand becomes less distinct and that confusion leads to all kinds of problems.

Even the most simple things like, I dunno, getting your charitable supporters to talk about you on twitter, becomes inundated with noise.

Really it was a crap thing for SimCo to knowingly do and any present publicity will be trivial to the ongoing concern of a charity that likely seeks to exist far beyond the lifespan of some cash-in marketing exercise.
posted by AbsoluteDestiny at 10:24 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, knowing about them caused me to donate some money to them, so I think it was (a little bit) relevant and helpful. It'd be interesting to see how their income changes in the next few weeks. It's my guess that they'll be getting more donations for a while, whether or not their name gets confused on Twitter.
posted by Huck500 at 10:33 AM on October 10, 2011


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