TGS Baltic Scored Victory in Trademark Dispute for Estonian Punk Rock Band Vanemõde

28.01.2021 TGS Baltic Scored Victory in Trademark Dispute for Estonian Punk Rock Band Vanemõde

On 26 January, the court rendered a significant judgment regarding the Estonian music industry by denying Andrus Kerstenbeck’s action and finding that Kerstenbeck, who had left the band, had no right to prevent others from registering “Vanemõde” as a trademark.

According to Law Firm TGS Baltic’s attorney Silvia Urgas who represented winning members of Vanemõde Veljo Vingissar, Jüri Roosa and Freddy Tomingas in court, it is an important issue for the Estonian music industry. “Basically, the county court found that one member of a punk rock band founded by friends does not have more rights over the band’s name than other members.”

Additionally, the county court found that by considering how active the band was in the 1980s, the wordmark “Vanemõde” is a well-known trademark. The conclusion of the county court also provides food for thought for several other well-known Estonian bands whose band names may be protected as well-known trademarks according to the court’s interpretation. However, the county court also found that the right to a band’s name does not belong to only one member of the band, especially considering that Vanemõde was a punk rock band founded by friends. Thus, members of Vanemõde have equal rights.

A couple of years ago, Andrus Kerstenbeck started performing under the name “Vanemõde” without other members of Vanemõde. Such a line-up was weird for the audience as well. For example, in a review published in newspaper Postimees on 27 February 2017, Rasmus Rammo found that “in reality, there is just one tribute band on the stage, called by the name of another line-up.” The county court found that the plaintiff alone cannot form band Vanemõde. In the assessment of the court, it is misleading to the audience and to the public when the plaintiff alone performs as band Vanemõde with outsiders by discarding other founders and later members of band Vanemõde.

In brief, Harju County Court found that Andrus Kerstenbeck has no right to prevent members of Vanemõde Veljo Vingissar, Jüri Roosa and Freddy Tomingas from registering a figurative mark of Vanemõde. Besides, the author of the design of the iconic logo of Vanemõde is precisely Veljo Vingissar and not Andrus Kerstenbeck. The county court judgment has not entered into force yet.