articleK-Pop

K-pop companies that give their former artists a hard time vs. those that remain friendly with them 

Unlike SM and some other K-pop agencies, two giants YG and JYP are praised for their attitude towards their ex-artists.

The relationship between management companies and K-pop artists has always gained fans and netizens’ interest and not just during artists’ active promotions, but even after their contracts expire and they have moved to other agencies. 

Companies that give their former artists a hard time over trademarks

Trademark rights are often a complicated issue for artists that part ways with their agencies. BEAST is a typical example. When BEAST members decided not to renew their contracts and left Cube Entertainment, Cube had registered the trademark for the name “BEAST” under performances, music releases (both physical and digital), and commercials that will only expire in 2026. 

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Cube registered the trademark for the name “BEAST” 

This led BEAST members to promote under a new group name, HIGHLIGHT. Although they still receive much support from fans as HIGHLIGHT, this is still a major disadvantage because if they want to perform songs during their years as BEAST, the members have to pay royalties for Cube. Not to mention, BEAST was their brand for years. 

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BEAST regrettably had to rebrand to HIGHLIGHT to continue their activities 

Like HIGHLIGHT, artists who left SM also struggled with trademark issues and even got into legal disputes. To reunite on stage on a TV show after 17 years, SM’s legendary 1st gen boy group H.O.T had to use the name “High-five of Teenagers” instead of H.O.T because of the copyright for H.O.T belongs to SM. 

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To reunite, SM’s 1st gen boy group was forced to use the name “High-five of Teenagers” instead of H.O.T.

Three former DBSK members Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu also adopted a new group name, JYJ, because amid their legal contract dispute with SM, the company already registered for trademark rights over the names, DBSK, TVXQ, and THSK. 

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SM made sure they owned the name DBSK and even other names like TVXQ or THSK
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Three former DBSK members, Jaejoong, Yoochun were active under JYJ after leaving SM 

Recently, fans also find it extremely regretful when GFRIEND, after their disbandment, will not be able to continue using the group’s name because Source Music has registered the ownership rights for it since March 2015, 2 months after GFRIEND’s debut.

GFriend Source Music
GFRIEND won’t be able to continue using the group name after disbanding because Source Music has registered the ownership rights for it

GFRIEND was much luckier than their senior, T-Ara. Specifically, the legendary girl group was caught in a legal dispute with their former management agency MBK Entertainment to obtain the right to use the name T-Ara after they left the company. This legendary legal dispute between T-Ara and MBK Entertainment lasted for years, consuming a lot of time and effort. However, the results that the group received in return were completely worth it.

The legal battle over the name copyright between T-Ara and MBK Entertainment has become a legend in the memories of many K-pop lovers.

The companies having good bond with their former artists

However, there are also lucky idols who don’t have to get into legal conflicts with the company when they leave.  Although YG often receives complaints for not taking care of the idols who are working under it well, the company still surprises the public with the way it treat former artists. 

YG appears to have implicitly permitted 2NE1 to reunite on the Coachella 2022 stage. Because YG responded that it “will not take any legal action” against 2NE1, the group was able to use the joint song as well as the group’s name without facing any legal issues related to trademark copyright.

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2NE1 was able to use the joint song as well as the group’s name without facing any legal issues 

In particular, after each artist like CL, PSY, EPIK HIGH, SE7EN or Lee Hi leaves the company, they will get their personal Youtube channel accounts back.. Former YG artists still regularly interact with YG current idols, showing a good relationship between them and the company. 

Lee Hi and many other artists all got the right to manage their own YouTube channels after leaving YG
Dara filmed a Tiktok video with Winner Seunghoon

Recently, GOT7 became the first and only artists from a Big 3 Company in the history of KPOP who have completely transferred all the trademarks to the members without losing any member and their group name. And as of May 12, all seven members of GOT7 are confirmed to be the legal owners of the full trademark rights to the group. 

GOT7 is the first group to completely be free of JYP Entertainment of all rights, trademarks, copyright and listings.

It is known that, thanks to a change in Korean property law and the efforts of leader Jay B, GOT7 has received the group’s brand name copyright.  At the same time, in this regard, JYP can also show a positive attitude towards the group.  As a result, there were no disputes or lawsuits between JYP and GOT7.

Jay B’s efforts and JYP’s goodwill made the copyright transfer process smooth

In addition, most of the artists used to working at JYP have positive comments after leaving the company.  JYP has never been in a situation of being sued by an artist, and more importantly, many former artist still maintain a relationship with President J.Y.Park. 

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Jia (former member of Miss A) took a photo with J.Y.Park in China  a few months after she left the company
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The reunion of J.Y.Park and Wonder Girls (now all members have left JYP) in the ‘Real Love Story’ show made netizens excited
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