I had the good fortune of seeing the Beastie Boys in concert a few times, and every show was amazing. Like many music fans, I was devastated by the 2012 cancer-related death of founding member Adam “MCA” Yauch. I assumed, as did most people, that the remaining two Beastie Boys would retire the band name forever.
However, a recent trademark filing suggests the band may be reuniting.
On June 26, 2015, the remaining Beastie Boys, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond, filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the name BEASTIE BOYS as a trademark in connection with “Live performances by a musical group.” Click here to see the USPTO trademark application.
The application was filed on an Intent-to-Use basis. Note that the band can’t obtain a trademark registration until they actually use that band name “in commerce.” Meaning, for this application to become a trademark registration, they have to use the band name “Beastie Boys” in the future for live musical performances. Their previous decades’ of performances don’t count. Commerce must be ongoing for a trademark registration to be issued and to remain valid.
Why would they file this application if they didn’t want to re-unite and play live shows? They wouldn’t need this application to prevent other musicians from performing as the Beastie Boys – there are plenty of other legal avenues to enforce those rights. And they have been very active in legally protecting their name and their intellectual property – see this 2012 blog post about their lawsuit against Monster Energy.
Here’s another factor to consider: when you file an Intent-to-Use trademark application, you are required to verify that you have a bona fide intent to use the trademark in commerce in connection with the identified goods or services. The application itself says as much:
The applicant has a bona fide intention to use or use through the applicant’s related company or licensee the mark in commerce on or in connection with the identified goods and/or services.
Absence of such intent constitutes fraud on the USPTO. To put it another way, if they don’t actually intend to use the name “Beastie Boys” for live musical performances, they may have committed fraud.
Let’s not go overboard here – nobody’s going to jail for this kind of trademark fraud. And it’s possible that their attorney (who signed the application on their behalf) filed this application for some other reason that we don’t know of, or that it was filed in error.
But it’s certainly surprising to see any indication that the surviving Beastie Boys may be making a return to the stage under their old band name. I’ll be keeping an eye on this USPTO application.