Giant Vice Media Sends Cease & Desist To Little, Unsigned L.A. Indie Rock Band ViceVersa
Media giant Vice Media sent a cease-and-desist letter to a three-piece Whittier band over their name, ViceVersa. ViceVersa is an indie rock band hailing from Whittier. They say they've been sent a cease-and-desist letter from Vice Media, the company behind VICE and all its assorted properties, over their band's name and logo, according to OC Weekly.
ViceVersa guitarist and vocalist Christopher Morales (who goes by Zeke Zeledon on stage) was attempting to trademark "ViceVersa" and received provisional approval from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in November, but then got the letter from Vice Media in the mail a month later. The letter claims that the band's name is an "unauthorized use of Vice Media's intellectual property" that could lead to confusion between the two. It also says that if the band doesn't stop using the name "ViceVersa," remove its website and social media pages, stop selling their merchandise, and provide documentation of all money earned since the band's formation in 2012, then the band could face "claims for injunctive relief and monetary damages."
Morales, drummer Ariel Fredrickson and bassist Sarah Corza maintain that they never thought of Vice Media when choosing their name or coming up with a logo, and that no one has ever thought they were related to Vice Media in any way. The band said via a statement that changing their name and branding now "could potentially set the band back thousands of dollars and gravely harm their growing fan base and social media presence." According to the band, they've played over 150 shows, released two EPs and produced a couple music videos under the name ViceVersa, and they were "barely starting to make a buzz."
The band has until April 18 to respond, and has decided to stand up for itself, setting up a GoFundMe for potential legal costs.
"I think our fans have given us the courage to do it." Morales told OC Weekly. "All our fans have been like, "F*ck Vice, stand up for yourself!"
In the accompanying video on the GoFundMe page, they compare their logo with VICE's and they look pretty different from one another.
The band's lawyer, Harry Finkel, said he wrote Vice Media told them the band agreed to change the language in the trademark application to clarify that the band in no way had anything to do with the publishing world. But Finkel said that Vice instead filed a letter requesting that the band's trademark application be denied.
Finkel has high hopes for his client, saying that legal precedent has shown that companies "can't protect commonly used words or phrases like 'vice,' when used inside of another word or phrase that is unique."
In a statement to Huffington Post, Vice said that the trademark "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."
Well, no publicity is bad publicity. Here's what ViceVersa sounds like.