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Mind Candy defeated in Lady Gaga court battle

Fri 14 Oct 2011 7:34am GMT / 3:34am EDT / 12:34am PDT
LegalDevelopment

Moshi Monsters parody Lady Goo Goo upsets Poker Face pop star

UK MMO developer Mind Candy has lost a court case against the pop star Lady Gaga over its Moshi Monsters character Lady Goo Goo.

On Monday the courts granted an injuction preventing the company from "promoting, advertising, selling, distributing or otherwise making available to the public The Moshi Dance OR any musical work or video which purports to be performed by a character by the name of Lady Goo Goo, or which otherwise uses the name Lady Goo Goo or any variant thereon."

Lawyers for Lady Gaga argued that young children may have trouble differentiating the cartoon monster from the American pop star.

"This court ruling is a huge disappointment. It's pretty obvious that kids will be able to tell the difference between the two characters," said CEO Michael Acton Smith.

"The shame is that millions of kids fell in love with Lady Goo Goo's debut single on YouTube and now won't be able to enjoy her musical exploits. It was all done in the name of fun and we would have thought that Lady Gaga could have seen the humour behind this parody."

Lady Goo Goo, a moshling character from the children's MMO that has over 50 million registered users, scored millions of hits when a video for her song The Moshi Dance was posted on YouTube. The character will still appear in Moshi Monsters, but the songs The Moshi Dance or Peppy-razzi, will not.

"Tribute bands and parody songs have been around for years but what this case shows is the potential power of registered trademark law to put a stop to some of their activities," Alastair Shaw, counsel for law firm Hogan Lovells told The Guardian.

"This may be particularly important for tribute acts or characters with names which are similar to the original acts, as they frequently are, who want to comercialise a track parodying a well-known song."

Mind Candy's music division, Moshi Music, intended to release the track on iTunes, and as part of an album later in the year.

Back in July GamesIndustry.biz spoke to Acton Smith about his plans to expand on the MMO's huge popularity.

"Our objective is not just to build an online game, we want to build this massive new type of entertainment company," he explained.

"That does mean we need to everywhere that our audience wants us, and that does mean console, and magazines and books. I want our live show to sell out the O2 and have holograms and pyrotechnics and screaming fans."

25 Comments

Mike Reddy
Programme Leader BSc

30 0 0.0
Some people have no sense of humour

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,136 914 0.8
Tough, but I can understand. It is effectively riding on another's brand even if it is fun and games..

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Sam Brown
Programmer

235 164 0.7
I get the feeling that Lady Gaga was exactly the wrong person to try and piggyback on. Her image and brand is everything about her, so anything that dilutes it is going to be extremely unwelcome.

Posted:2 years ago

#3
Afraid I can completely understand this one.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Antony Cain
Lecturer

263 21 0.1
Understandable indeed. I still have to agree with Mike though.

Posted:2 years ago

#5
I think win or lose, its a positive calculated outcome for Mind Candy. Well done!

Posted:2 years ago

#6

John Bye
Senior Game Designer

478 443 0.9
"Lawyers for Lady Gaga argued that young children may have trouble differentiating the cartoon monster from the American pop star"

Made me chuckle.

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Christopher Bowen
Editor in Chief

400 523 1.3
Something like this would never fly in America with our well established laws in favour of parody. Are the UK's laws really so different?

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Grant Hughes
Business Development Director

3 0 0.0
Good PR for Mind Candy, so no one loses!

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Tim Wright
Managing Director

29 0 0.0
They can always re-name her to Princess Poo Poo. ;O)

Posted:2 years ago

#10

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

730 411 0.6
So.... this doesn't fall under parody? I thought that was protected?

And if it's not parody... then wth is?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 14th October 2011 4:44pm

Posted:2 years ago

#11
I'm sure Lady Gaga's lawyer's bill to establish and protect her intellectual property was no laughing matter. It's not really a case of her having no sense of humour. Better this happen now than later down the road where Mind Candy may have poured millions into what they thought was their own brand, to face an even more costly and damaging legal challenge. I don't think the question of confusion is so evident, but a broader interpretation of IP Law ( association with a brand) is possibly the angle Gaga's lawyers have taken. And if Lady Gaga just ignored this, if she ever wanted a cartoon representation of herself at some point down the road, there really could be confusion, even a possibility that she might end up fighting as a defendant of what she considers her own IP.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Oliver Birch
Director of Marketing

16 0 0.0
C'mon music industry, play nicely!

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Kayleigh McDougall
Studying BA(Hons) Game Design and Production Management

21 1 0.0
Would overreacting be a good word to describe this situation?

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Raf Keustermans
CEO, co-founder Plumbee

28 2 0.1
I think this is the key: "Mind Candy's music division, Moshi Music, intended to release the track on iTunes, and as part of an album later in the year."

Trying to make money from it, is what triggered this, I guess. It's one thing to have a funny character that's a parody on a famous popstar, it's another thing to try to monetize that parody, that's where you start capitalizing on someone else's brand, no?

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Jamie Watson
Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment

179 0 0.0
@raf: well yes you can make money from someone elses brand by making a parody of the song/act etc but if you do it right (ask the person first if you intend to sell it) then none of this would of happened.

still knowing this i reckon the hits for that song will go through the roof and they will work something out...maybe.

still overreacting a bit though.

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Sean Warren
Inspector

34 0 0.0
@Jamie Watson
I am pretty sure you missed the copyright class... Parody, is a complete separation, you don't ask someones permission to make fun of them, you have the right to make fun of them because it does not infringe upon their civil liberties to simply ignore you. That said, jurisdictions change, and the landscape of the law with them... so perhaps you did attend that class after all. As for this one, it looks like the prosecution went with a "slander" argument, for which the judge could go either way, depending on how he was feeling about the spirit of the law that day.

For this kind of stuff, you may as well just ignore it. Do what you can and if you get sued, deal with it... As for what the good Dr. said above, he is right, oftentimes you will be better off if you get sued by a much bigger fish. See, all originality is already taken at this point... if a bigger fish wants to pay a judge more than you can to take anything from you, you better be ready to take up a new project, because rights, and laws are a joke in the global economic arena. $ is all.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Timothy Hotston
Graduate

11 1 0.1
"Lawyers for Lady Gaga argued that young children may have trouble differentiating the cartoon monster from the American pop star"

Priceless :D

Lady Goo Goo's music is trash as well, but I can definitely see the resemblance:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re2lKxEH8...

Posted:2 years ago

#18
They were deriving commercial benefit from someone else's brand. It's disingenuous for them to talk about being disappointed not to bring people fun - that is a red herring. To add to that their ad hominem attack on the brand holder (claiming that they lack a sense of humour) and frankly it feels more like Moshi are the party that has behaved badly.

Posted:2 years ago

#19

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

730 411 0.6
@ Klaude:

I guess comedy shows should all be banned then? I can't count on my fingers the number of times they've had parody versions of the major artists and songs of the times as a sketch... Like they never made any money from that!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 15th October 2011 3:59pm

Posted:2 years ago

#20
@ James

This case in point is not related to parody or in the spirit of the life of brian. Thus the judge ruled accordingly. One has to read between the lines. Good calculated PR overall. Good Biz move (with money to back up, and legal to minimize any legal dispute/payoff presumably)

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Juliet Bathory
Writer

3 0 0.0
Three words sum this up really. Weird Al Yankovic. He's been doing parody for years and made money from it, however, his brand of parody saw him take on many artists and stayed within the realm of music. This one was crossing multiple platforms and the ongoing income stream (and the fact that this one character could perpetuate for as long as Lady Ga Ga does) from a character that won't be used for any other persona demonstrates a dedicated intention to capitalise off the Ga Ga brand and Ga Ga brand alone.

While I agree that she, of all people, should have had the good sense to have a chuckle and let it go (after all, she mocks high fashion almost on a daily basis) I can see where the judge was coming from.

Posted:2 years ago

#22

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

730 411 0.6
I'm sorry but i still disagree. Take things like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Bored of the rings. Yes, copyright was out on the first one (though i don't think it was for Bored) but they made continual money as a property deriving income off of the other brands.

You can't allow this thing to happen sometimes but not other times. It's just not right and ends up with people who benefit from these same protections then turning around and stopping other people from doing the same. Case in point the music industry and, as you mentioned, Juliet, Lady Ga Ga (not only with respect to her use of parody of fashion but her continued use of the Queen song title as a way for her to use that brand to cause recognition from her listeners).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 16th October 2011 9:02am

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Arthur N

11 2 0.2
Serves them right. It's a bit wrong to use rely on celebrity to carry their product to greatness... epsecially without the consent of said celebrity. Instead of focusing on clever game design they're focusing too much on exploiting someone else's popularity to their advantage. It's underhanded and low, they should earn their way up or at least gain approval from Lady Gaga before integrating her into a commercial product.

Posted:2 years ago

#24

Dave Stansfield
Reviewer/Comedian

12 0 0.0
So when is Weird Al going to be sued? Surely the lawyers of many music artists have him in their sights.

Posted:2 years ago

#25

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