A 22-year copyright battle surrounding one of the most iconic anthems of our time – ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ – has finally been settled, with the announcement of this intellectual property battle’s resolution coinciding with the presentation of an Ivor Novello Award for outstanding contribution to British music, to cult hero and musician Richard Ashcroft.
The globally recognised anthem, a huge hit on its release by Ashcroft’s band, The Verve, has become even better-known. since being regularly played during TV broadcasts of the England football team’s matches. It has also been included in the score for movie ‘Cruel Intentions’. Until now, however, royalties from this mesmerising song have not been benefiting Ashcroft.
This is to change, with all royalties now being sent to his bank account, following a backing down by two other iconic musicians, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. An acrimonious court case back in the late 90s resulted in an out-of-court settlement which saw Jagger and Richards credited as co-writers of the song, and Ashcroft relinquishing his royalties. This was due to the Rolling Stones’ publishing company asserting that ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ used an unagreed longer sample – four seconds in fact – of the string motif from The Rolling Stones’ hit, ‘The Last Time’. Although discussions had been held about the use of this track extract, the final go-ahead was not given, prior to The Verve releasing the song.
Rock stars are not the only people forced to defend Intellectual Property (IP) actions and deep pockets can be required to do so, if no insurance is in place. Cases can concern infringement of copyright, patents, trademarks, designs, artistic and musical works, whilst symbols, phrases and words can also be protected by Intellectual Property law. Those unsuccessful, when it comes to the ruling, can face losses in terms of legal costs, damages and settlements, but other financial losses can be incurred on a product that can no longer be marketed following a judgement.
Having IP protection in the locker is just one part of the marketing battle. Enforcing IP rights by bringing an action is a costly exercise, and one not free from peril as a judge has to be convinced that IP has clearly been infringed. If judgement is not in your favour, there is actually the possibility that a counterclaim could be launched by the other party – a truly bitter-sweet experience given the costs that could then result from what you believed was your watertight position.
IP law can be confusing and cases can be full of twists and turns. However, if you have an insurance policy in place that will enable you to both defend an action or bring an action, knowing that you have a safety-net should you prove unsuccessful, your hand is that much stronger.
IP insurance broking experts can be found within our network, so to achieve the verve that will enable you to promote and sell your product with confidence, without fears about IP defence or actions, please get in touch.