Ex-members of the disbanded group GFRIEND opened up the possibility of promoting as “GFriend“. The industry’s opinion is that the agency’s mistakes paved the way for their activities.
Source Music, a subsidiary of HYBE, recently requested the Korean Intellectual Property Office to apply for a trademark for “G-Friend“, but received a rejection notice on July 14th. It is not a decision to dismiss, but the purpose is to amend the opinion on the trademark application.
The applied trademark “G-Friend” is a trademark similar to “GFRIEND“, the English name of the group girlfriend (Trademark Act, Article 34, Paragraph 1, No. 6). This is because there is a risk of confusion or consumer deception (Trademark Act, Article 34, Paragraph 1, No. 11).
The products that Source Music applied for this time were 18 (bags and clothing, etc.), which were previously rejected because 3 (soap and non-medical cosmetics, etc.), 11 (sanitary devices for steam generation, etc.), and 14 (precious metals, Jewelries, etc.) was not an application for entertainment-related trademark rights.
Nonetheless, based on the interpretation of the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the existing GFRIEND members are permitted to engage in activities not only with the English name “G-Friend,” but also with the original Korean name “여자친구” which is currently held by the former agency Source Music.
According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office, Source Music‘s trademark application was for “a trademark similar to the English name of ‘G-Friend,’ a six-member female singer group that is widely recognized by the general public.”
In a similar case, T-ara‘s former agency applied for a trademark application for “T-ara” and was rejected.
Park Soo Jo, a patent attorney at Yonsei University (adjunct professor at Yonsei University), stated, “The Korean Intellectual Property Office appears to have clarified the position that, if the group is disbanded after the name of an existing famous idol group is owned by the agency, the trademark rights of the group name will belong to the group members and not the agency“.
GFriend was a six-member girl group debuted by Source Music in January 2015; however, Source Music, which was acquired by HYBE in May of last year, terminated their activities due to the expiration of their exclusive contract. It came as a surprise to the fans. The anger of the fans continued, as did the criticism that the “disbandment” was not fully agreed upon by the agency and the members.