Indie rock band Kaiser Chiefs has been accused of copying bicycle part maker Sturmey Archer’s logo on the cover of its album Education, Education, Education & War.
The band’s website has also been updated to reflect the look of the album, which is due for UK release in March.
However, the band, which reportedly named itself after a South African football team, said the album cover was a homage to the 112-year-old brand, originally based in Nottingham.
General manager of Sturmey Archer Alan Clarke told BikeBiz: “I have worked for the company for more than 40 years and I have never known anything quite as blatant as this. We are used to this sort of thing from backstreet suppliers, but did not expect it from such a big band.
“They did not even contact us up front and they have not responded to questions posed since we were alerted by customers.”
He added: “A customer has suggested that the band should be renamed Kaiser Thiefs – which might not be grammatically correct but does reflect how we now feel.”
The band told the NME on Thursday: “Kaiser Chiefs have said that they merely took inspiration from Sturmey Archer and did not intend to cause offence.
“The lyrics of our new album Education, Education, Education & War look into Britain’s past and our designer has deliberately created artwork that references Britain’s heritage.”
They continued: “We hoped to pay homage to the legacy of Sturmey Archer and by using this design we did not expect, nor did we intend to upset them.”
Sarah Byrt, an IP consultant at Mayer Brown LLP in London, said that there are two main “legal weapons” Sturmey Archer could use to increase pressure on the band to resolve the issue.
“If they have a registered trademark for the logo which is imitated on the album cover, they could argue that that trademark is being infringed. But since any trademark most likely covers bikes and spares, rather than music, they’d need to show that their trademark is famous,” she said.
“The other legal route is passing off, where they would need to show some kind of confusion or association in people’s minds.
“Neither of these is straightforward, which is frustrating for a brand owner in this position,” Byrt added.
This article was first published on 20 February 2014 in World IP Review
Kaiser Chiefs, Sturmey Archer, trademark infringement, Education, Education, Education & War, logo