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Nov 2014
07
November 07, 2014

Unique Trademark Protects Band’s Famous Face Paint

Who: KISS Catalog Ltd. in New York
Industry: Entertainment
Area of Law: Intellectual Property
Results: Our attorneys won a precedent-setting trademark infringement case which blocked the unauthorized use of protected images and other products featuring the iconic, painted faces of the rock band KISS.

 


The Case

KISS is one of the world’s most famous rock bands, with a style and iconic face paint that have created some of the most recognized images in the music industry. The black and white face paint gave KISS a look that is unlike any other band. Trademarks are a crucial part of the band’s brand, which is an international, multi-billion dollar enterprise. In 2010, KISS Catalog Ltd. filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey author who used copyrighted photos in a book called "Vintage Kiss Photos: 1974-1981." The book was published despite warnings that it would violate a trademark protecting the registered face paint of KISS.

The Strategy

A key aspect of the lawsuit was the fact that KISS attorneys had successfully registered the band’s face paint as trademarks in the U.S. and around the world before the book was published. Warner Norcross attorneys Ray Scott and Greg DeGrazia persuaded the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to approve the precedent-setting trademark. “No one had ever registered the face of an entertainer before,” Scott said. “As a matter of fact, the trademark office said you can’t do that.” The KISS attorneys prevailed, establishing a trademark that would protect the band’s financial interests and set a new standard for trademark violations in the entertainment industry. William Randolph, the general counsel for Kiss Catalog Ltd. in New York, called the federal court ruling “an important decision, not only for KISS, but also for the entertainment industry.”

Legal Team

Ray Scott and Greg DeGrazia, who now practice law for the Technology and Intellectual Property Group at Warner Norcross, have collaborated to trademark the KISS face paint and defend the trademark in courts in the U.S. and internationally.

Outcome

The United States District Court in Detroit granted a permanent injunction that blocked distribution of the book containing the copyrighted photos of KISS. The court also prohibited anyone from publishing other books or selling other unauthorized items featuring the painted faces of KISS. The ruling allowed KISS to control the monetization of its brand and, ultimately, generate more revenue.

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