LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) – Members of the 2000s boy band O-Town are locked in a trademark dispute with Universal Music Group (UMG) over the rights to their name.
O-Town was formed by late music mogul, Lou Pearlman, as part of MTV’s “Making the Band” reality series. Pearlman, who served as the band’s manager and also managed other acts including the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC until the group disbanded in 2003, filed the original O-Town trademark in March of 2000 before it was later canceled in 2009.
According to legal documents, the reformed members of O-Town, which include Jacob Underwood, Erik-Michael Estrada, Trevor Penick and Dan Miller, reapplied for ownership of the O-Town trademark in 2017.
In a notice of opposition filed April 25, 2019, UMG claims that the “O-Town” mark is too similar to the recording giant’s own “Motown” mark (i.e. Motown Records) and that the group’s application should be denied. UMG is also arguing that the similarities between the two marks are “likely to cause confusion” and that the inspiration for the “O-Town” mark was “widely reported” to be the Motown record label at the time the group was formed.
Underwood, Penick, Estrada and Miller filed an answer to UMG’s opposition on June 10, claiming the “Motown” marks “have not become associated exclusively with UMG and its goods or services” and that there is “no likelihood” of confusion between the two. They go on to cite several other trademark filings using the Motown name that were not disputed by UMG, including “Motown Missile” and “Detroit Motown The Bus 36 Muscle.”
Underwood, who now also serves as the band’s manager, has been vocal in the media about the dispute saying “O-Town has been selling records for almost 20 years now” and calling UMG’s claim “ridiculous.”