Posts Tagged ‘garfield’s ghost’

After much procrastination and daydreaming, I’ve finally gotten around to revamping the blog. I’ve deleted some of the older entries (mostly ones where I was rambling on about nothing in particular), changed the layout and designed a new logo. And with a bit of luck and the odd injection of willpower, I also hope to post more often than I have in the past.

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Back in early February, American singer Lennon Murphy, who promotes herself simply as ‘Lennon’, posted a notice on her website declaring that Yoko Ono had filed a lawsuit against her. The reason, she said, was that she had trademarked the name and the former Beatles’ widow was contesting her right to it. In her online announcement Murphy stated she was worried that it could “very well mean the career that I have worked so hard at… may come to an end.”

Newspapers around the world immediately picked up on the story. Online forums and blogs were inundated with vitriolic posts decrying Ono’s heavy-handed tactics with someone who was only trying to protect their own name. Murphy appeared on the Howard Stern Show to highlight her plight and even gained support from Julian Lennon.

I was tempted to post a blog entry at the time but decided against it. Instead I held off so I could digest the story fully and take a look at the US trademark laws that could play a major factor in deciding the outcome of any potential lawsuit. It was probably a good decision, as within days Ono issued the following statement to Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing:

Dear Xeni

A musician named Lennon Murphy is claiming that Yoko Ono has sued her and that Yoko is seeking to stop Lennon Murphy from performing under her name, Lennon Murphy. Both of these claims are untrue.

Several years ago, Lennon Murphy sought Yoko’s permission to do her performances under her name, Lennon Murphy. Yoko, of course, did not object to her request. Subsequently, without Yoko’s knowledge, Lennon Murphy filed an application in the United States trademark Office requesting the exclusive right to utilize the name “Lennon” for musical performances. Yoko’s attorneys asked Lennon Murphy’s attorneys and manager to withdraw her registration of exclusivity to the name LENNON for the trademark. Yoko also offered to cover all costs Lennon Murphy had incurred in filing for the trademark. But Lennon Murphy went ahead to register.

Yoko did not sue Lennon Murphy, but sought to stop her from getting the exclusive right to the name Lennon for performance purposes. For that, Yoko’s attorneys, simply notified the Trademark office that Yoko did not believe it was fair that Ms. Murphy be granted the exclusive right to the “Lennon” trademark in relation to musical and entertainment services. As you can see, this is a very important issue for Yoko and the Lennon family.

Yoko says: “I am really hurt if people thought that I told a young artist to not use her own name in her performances and had sought to sue her. I did no such thing. I hope this allegation will be cleared.”

Thank you for your kind attention.

 Yoko 

So it would appear Lennon Murphy was being somewhat economical with the truth! Far from suing her, Ono was merely filing an objection with the trademarks office because the nature of Murphy’s trademark could have implications for the John Lennon estate, as well as for the rights of his two sons (yes that includes Julian, although I think we can presume Yoko was thinking more about Sean).

The big question now is why did Murphy attempt to trademark the name in the first place? She could have continued performing under the name ‘Lennon’ without it and it would be perfectly legal, since that’s her real name.  I don’t buy into any excuses that she could have done it in ignorance either. She’s been performing full-time for around eight years and any professional musician starts to learn about the business in that time, no matter how naïve they are when they start out. Add that to the fact that Arista Records, her label at the time she applied for the trademark, have a good legal team who would have strongly advised Murphy against taking such a step. It’s more likely that Lennon Murphy knew exactly what she was doing and that she did it for a reason other than just protecting her name.

And the reason? Publicity, of course!

You don’t have to be a law graduate to realise that Yoko Ono will take action if you try and infringe on the John Lennon name. And when she does, you can bet it will be in the glare of the media. As it turned out Ono’s response was quite measured, so the situation had to be ‘spiced-up’ a little bit in order to gain attention. It worked and journalists willingly latched onto the story without questioning it. After all, wasn’t Yoko Ono the evil witch responsible for the Beatles splitting up and denying Julian Lennon his share of his father’s estate?

Just look at all the exposure Murphy has had since the story broke… money couldn’t buy it! Murphy has done everything from gigging non-stop for eight years to becoming a Suicide Girl in order to gain exposure and none of that has come close to the amount of press she’s received from simply portraying herself as a victim. In a way, I have to admire her for devising a means of free publicity on such a grand scale.

Though it’s said there’s no such thing as bad publicity, there may be a sting in the tail for Murphy in all this. Since the full details of the case became apparent there’s been something of a public backlash and it’s quite possible this negativity may irreparably damage her reputation and integrity as a performer. In fact, I’ve yet to read a supportive comment about her since the entire truth was revealed. People could think twice now before buying her music, resulting in promoters, distribution companies, and record labels becoming reluctant to do business with her for fear they will lose money. The media also appear to be shying away from providing her with any further coverage (in case they end up with more egg on their face, I presume). And to top it all off Julian Lennon – who’s likely to use any opportunity to get at Yoko Ono – has seemingly withdrawn his support for Murphy, having deleted all reference to her in his online blog.

All in all, Lennon Murphy has made one hell of a mess for herself. And even if she manages to overcome all this there’s still one problem. Her music sucks:

Lennon: Brake of Your Car

Believe me when I say that’s her best song!