Simon Cowell's company slapped with suit over “X Factor”-spawned boy band One Direction
One Direction, two bands, and a whole lot of confusion.
The music industry was rocked this week by a lawsuit from a band claiming that it was working under the name One Direction well before the U.K. boy band (photo, left) of the same moniker came on the scene.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in California on Monday by a "California-based, pop-rock band" that claims it has been using the name One Direction since fall 2009 — a year before the U.K. group began to use the name, and more than two years before the U.K. group "made its first entry into the United States market" with the One Direction title.
The complaint names the individual members of the U.K. group, as well as Simon Cowell's Syco Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Music Holdings.
Read the full lawsuit here.
The U.K. group, which was spawned from the British version of "The X Factor," has seen considerable success in the U.S. with its debut album "Up All Night," entering the Billboard 200 album chart in the Number 1 position in March — a first for a U.K. act.
Nonetheless, according to the lawsuit, the California group filed an application to register the trademark One Direction with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Feb. 2011 — the same month that its debut album, "The Light," was released — and has sold its music through iTunes and other media, and posted "several music videos" since first adopting the name.
A spokesman for the U.K band told TheWrap that his group had tried to reach an agreement with the other One Direction, to no avail.
“One Direction’s management tried to resolve the situation amicably when the matter first came to light, but the Californian group has now filed a law suit claiming they own the name," the spokesman said. "One Direction’s lawyers now have no choice but to defend the lawsuit and the band’s right to use their name.”
The suit claims that the U.K. One Direction — which plans to tour in the United States in May — is "likely to cause confusion, mistake and/or deception among consumers" by using the name. The complaint further alleges that the California group "has been damaged and deprived of the value of its mark as a commercial asset, in amounts to be established according to proof."
The California band is asking the court to issue a permanent injunction restraining the group from using the One Direction name on product, promotional material and advertising. The suit is also asking for an order that all such material from the UK group bearing the One Direction name be destroyed.
The suit also seeks damages in excess of $1 million, plus interest and attorneys' fees.
This isn't the first time that such a dispute has arisen. Often, a minor variation of a name is used when a group chooses a moniker already in use, such as was the case with Wham! UK and the English Beat.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.