UPDATED UPDATE: Eric Weiss contacted me and says he was contacted directly by Rob Zombie, who did not know his lawyers were going after Weiss, and has agreed to coexist with Zombie! (aka Weiss). I had a feeling he didn’t know what his legal team was up to, and kudos to him for being a man and a human being and doing the right thing. Rob Zombie, zombie lovers everywhere salute you!
UPDATE: Opinion from my lawyer friend added!
I’ve seen a copy of the letter referenced in today’s news post from Rob Zombie’s trademark lawyers and it’s alarming. They seem to be claiming he owns the right to the word zombie in any musical context, which is just utter bullshit. I can think of a half a dozen band names that use the word in addition to the band Zombie! who they are going after (who, it’s worth noting, is a small, unsigned independent guy who isn’t a great position to fight a legal war). And since zombies are probably the second most popular movie monster ever, it isn’t like he staked out some far-out undiscovered territory with the name Rob Zombie — I guess John Vampire would be slightly less original, but just slightly.
I’ve askedÂ a lawyer friend if there’s any legal merit to the case and I will update when I hear back from him. I will also be attempting to contact the law firm tomorrow for comment. If you know of any bands that use the word zombie in their name, please leave them in the comments. I’d like to point out to these lawyers how futile and misguided this attempt really is.
My lawyer friend, who first points out that, “trademark law is a branch of Intellectual Property law and is its own unique thing with its own bar exam, etc. Â If you really want a completely accurate legal opinion about this you would need to consult a Patent Attorney in all likelihood,” goes on to offer the following:
Without constituting an actual legal opinion but merely being my best guess, you are correct that this is bullshit. Â The name “Zombie!” is distinct enough from “Rob Zombie” – the trademarked term – that it is unlikely to be confused and, therefore, unlikely to infringe upon Rob Zombie’s rights or capitalize on the goodwill his name generates. Â There are numerous examples (The Mission and The Mission U.K., The Charlatans and The Charlatans U.K., Verve Records and The Verve, Dinosaur and Dinosaur Jr., etc.) where substantially more minor variations have been sufficient to differentiate between two distinct musical entities. Â If the mere mention of the word “zombie” in a band name were enough to constitute infringement than Rob Zombie better be prepared to disgorge all of his lifetime earnings to the sixties band The Zombies.
Furthermore, it is unlikely that Rob Zombie’s birth name is Zombie. Â He, like any number of others, is capitalizing on a horror creature/genre to give his audience an impression of what he and his work are about before they ever hear a note he has played. Â One cannot at this point trademark the idea of zombies. Â This is why hundreds of people have made zombie movies without being sued to hell and back while nobody except George Lucas and those who have purchased the rights from George Lucas have made films about Wookies. Â Wookies are exclusive to the Star Wars universe and are the intellectual property of George Lucas. Â Zombies are an idea in the public domain and available to anyone to use. Â It is the zombie genre that your friends, Rob Zombie and The Zombies have all capitalized on for their musical names – Rob Zombie didn’t come up with the idea and cannot lay claim to it.
He goes on to say that Zombie’s lawyers probably will be able to sue Weiss out of business — unless enough unfavorable publicity is shed on the whole affair to convince them to back off. That’s where you all come in — please spread this far and wide, for Weiss and anyone else that ever wants to use the word zombie in their band or musical project without fear of Rob Zombie’s army of undead lawyers.
After the break, you can find scanned images of the cease-and-desist notice sent to Eric Weiss of Zombie!
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