Source Music trademark application for ‘GFRIEND’ rejected, members are free to use it as they like

In trademark battles that I didn’t know were going on news, the Korea Intellectual Property Protection Agency (KOIPA) reportedly rejected Source Music‘s application for a trademark on the name GFRIEND. They gave two reasons for the rejection.

“Reason for rejection 1: The trademark ‘G-Friend’ is identical to the English name for the 6-member South Korean girl group GFRIEND and cannot be trademarked.
Reason for rejection 2: The trademark ‘GFRIEND’ is directly affiliated with the 6-member South Korean girl group GFRIEND (Korean: 여자친구), a group noticeably identifiable by general consumers, and thus the use of this trademark by the applicant for product use can cause misconception, raising the potential for deception of consumers.”

The reported significance of this is that like T-ara before them, GFRIEND members can continue to use the name freely at least in English, though I’m not sure if the members themselves were involved in disputing the trademark.

I feel like these cases are valid from the company’s side if the trademark is registered early on, but in a similar situation to T-ara’s case, Source only applied for this trademark in March of last year right before they disbanded. By then, it’s the members that are associated with the name and have made it relevant more than the company, which has generally been backed by trademark law.

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