Monday, November 30, 2009

We Want to Name Our Band After a Movie Character

We are wanting to name our band Denton Baxter. He was a character in the movie Open Range (photo, left). Would this be infringement? The short and long answer is that no, it's not an infringement and yes, you will be okay using Denton's name.
Bands do it all the time. There is a tradition of bands borrowing names of movie characters -- for example, Duran Duran (Barbarella), Thompson Twins (Adventures of Tin Tin), Mogwai (the mean little creatures in Gremlins), Wu-Tang Clan (Shaolin and Wu-Tang), Pussy Galore (Goldfinger), Travis (Paris, Texas), Klaatu (The Day the Earth Stood Still), Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany's) and our favorite, Cosmo Vitelli (Killing of a Chinese Bookie). And of course, bands often borrow the names of movies as their monikers (Bad Company, Killdozer, Babes in Toyland, 10,000 Maniacs, My Bloody Valentine, They Might Be Giants, and White Zombie). 
When to watch out. Of course, just because bands use movie-related names doesn't mean it's always legal or that you won't get hassled. In some cases -- for example, if you're borrowing the lead character's name in a movie series or franchise such as Harry Potter or Spiderman -- you may get a cease and desist letter. (Mattel unsuccessfully tried to stop the use of the Barbie's name in a risque pop song.) For bands picking names, the Dear Rich Staff recommends choosing lesser known characters or characters from non-current films and avoiding any additional references to the movie or images from the film in your album artwork or advertisements.