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Indie Band ViceVersa Reaches Agreement With Vice & Gets To Keep Its Name

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ViceVersa (Photo via Facebook)
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Whittier band ViceVersa has triumphed over media giant Vice Media, who had previously sent the band a cease-and-desist letter over their name. Last year, ViceVersa guitarist and vocalist Zeke Zeledon (real name Christopher Morales) attempted to trademark his band's name. He received provisional approval from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in November, only to receive a letter from Vice Media a month later claiming that the band's name was an "unauthorized use of Vice Media's intellectual property" that could lead to confusion between the two. The letter also threatened that the band could "face claims for injunctive relief and monetary damages" if the band didn't quit using the name and take down its website and social media pages. Now, Vice Media has apparently reached an agreement with the band that will allow them to continue using their name and logo, OC Weekly reports.

Zeledon told LAist that he and his bandmates—Ariel Fredrickson (drums) and Sarah Cora (bass)—found out they'd get to keep their name just over a week ago. For the up-and-coming band, this is huge, as they'd just begun to make a name for themselves.

Zeledon credits the band's lawyer, Harry Finkel, and their fans for this win. The band solicited the advice of Finkel after receiving the letter, who suggested to Vice Media that the band change their trademark application to make it clear that the band had nothing to do with the publishing world. However, Finkel said that Vice instead filed a letter requesting that the band's trademark application be denied.

"We did try and solve this amicably in December, but we were ignored. So our fans and supporters made enough noise the second go around," Zeledon says. "Pretty much all the bad press got to [Vice] and they agreed to logic."

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The story broke was reported via numerous outlets, including LAist, in April. Vice Media submitted a withdrawal on May 23.

ViceVersa's lawyer has released a statement, with what is potentially something of a barb at the end. Via Pitchfork:

After a few weeks of negotiations, the two parties have come to an amicable agreement. Changes have been made to the band's trademark details as registered with the USPTO, thus narrowing the scope of their services. ViceVersa will continue using their name and logo as they please and Vice Media will go about their $2.5 billion business.

Vice founder Shane Smith has also apparently blocked the band on Twitter. So I guess we won't see them in Noisey, huh?

Anyhow, Zeledon says the band is mostly relieved.

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"Now that this thing is over, we can shift our focus back to making music," he says.

They're also free to release the video for their new track, "Head." They had intended to produce the video earlier, but were delayed due to the whole trademark issue.

The premise is that one of the band's fans heads to Amoeba Music in Hollywood to pick up their new album, only to discover the bandmates are shopping there, too. They then go on a jaunt around town, stopping Caveman Vintage Music in Chinatown, California Donuts, and their Whittier studio DaDank Venue, among other hotspots. The video was shot in 360, which means you can immerse yourself with a VR headset, or you can click and drag around the screen to check out what's going on.

"[The video] is so much fun because you can have different 'scenes' happening during the same 'block,' and it allows you to experience the video differently every time depending on where you focus," Zeledon says.

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Editor's Note: A previous version of this story attributed Finkel's statement to Vice Media.