The possibility of the members being able to reunite as “GFRIEND” has opened. The industry assessed that Source Music’s errors have rather paved the way for this.
Source Music, affiliated with HYBE, recently requested the Korean Intellectual Property Office to apply for trademark rights for the name “G-Friend,” but was notified of its rejection on July 14th. Although it is not a decision to dismiss, the notification’s purpose is to correct the opinion on the trademark application.
The reason is that the trademark “G-Friend” Source Music applied for is the same brand as the group GFRIEND’s English name “GFRIEND” (Article 34 (1) 6 of the Trademark Act), and there is a concern that the product quality may be misunderstood or deceiving for consumers (Article 34 (1) 11 of the Trademark Act).
Source Music applied for 18 types of products (bags, clothing, etc.), which were not trademark applications related to the entertainment industry, such as 3 types (soaps and non-medical cosmetics), 11 types (vapor-generating sanitary devices), and 14 types (precious metals and jewelry).
However, the interpretation of the Korean Intellectual Property Office has opened the room for the ex-GFRIEND members to promote under their English group name as well as their original Korean name G-Friend, a right currently held by Source Music, their former agency.
Regarding Source Music’s application for trademark rights, the Korean Intellectual Property Office stated that it is a trademark similar to the English name of the six-member girl group “GFRIEND,” which is remarkably recognized by ordinary consumers.
In a similar case, T-ARA’s former agency also filed for trademark application for the name T-ARA. After being rejected, the members of T-ARA have been working under the name of T-ARA until now after reaching an agreement between the two sides.
“The Korean Intellectual Property Office seems to have clarified the position that if the agency owns the name of an existing famous idol group and the group is already disbanded, the trademark right of the group’s name will belong to the group members, not the agency,” said Park Soo-jo.
GFRIEND was a six-member girl group that Source Music debuted in January 2015, but Source Music, which was acquired by HYBE in May last year, ended their activities due to the termination of their exclusive contract. It was a sudden notification for the fans. In addition to criticism that this was not sufficiently agreed between the agency and the members, fans continued to demand the truth.