Kudelski’s Nagra sues Tanagra in a trademark dispute!

RockmusicRaider - Tanagra stepped on by Nagra's foot.
Photo: Kara Pesznecker Reavis

Here’s an interesting one. A tale of David meeting Goliath, played in real-time, today.

In one corner you have the respected audio hardware maker Nagra, owned by the Kudelski Group in Switzerland. Opposite sits a little known Power Metal band called Tanagra from Portland, Oregon in the United States.

So, one well-financed big guy with loads of legal firepower and the puny one with literally none of that facing off at each other. And, in trademark-related cases, this usually does not bode too well for the one with less muscle.

The case!

Once things took on steam, Tanagra decided to file a trademark request. So that they may sell their merchandise with a protected logo. Which is an understandable and legitimate desire, methinks.

As the trademark rules process goes, everyone with a vested interest and a bone to grind can (and should) file an opposition. After all, protecting business interests is of vital importance to any brand out there. Which is what Nagra did, as – supposedly – the band’s name would trespass on their territory and be a clear and present danger to their business.

In response to this, the band already started a crash sale of all their wares to be ready for a possible rebranding. Even if – in the meantime – they received some legal air cover from an interest group on a pro-bono basis.

So far, so good. All legal and groovy for Nagra. Right?

Quite. Only, here is the thing.

It is not really understandable why Nagra would go after that band, apart from a make-my-lawyer-rich scheme. Which is played often by scouts from law firms, whose only reason to exist is to file such suits.

The band makes music, and may even use Nagra‘s equipment to do so. It’s not that they will make audio devices suddenly. And any trademark request needs to be locked to a purpose. So, if that purpose is – say – metal music and the sale of branded merchandise, then the band cannot legally do anything else with it.

And matters get even more interesting.

After a five minute search of the mighty internet, you find tons of Tanagras. Like the municipality in Greece, the famous terracotta figurines, an airbase, a machine learning software, spare parts from a firm in Lithuania.

Want more? It gets better.

There’s this bone of contention in Switzerland about the disposal of radioactive waste. A government-sponsored cooperative searching for safe locations to indefinitely store said byproducts exists for that purpose. Alas, they don’t get very far with their project, as nobody wants to have such a storage facility in their backyard.

And the cooperative is called, you guessed it, Nagra. The exact same name of the Kudelski outfit and right in their very own neighborhood.

Or take ConAgra, or Nagra/PSI, and so on and so forth. The names of all those Nagras out there are legion.

The company will, of course, argue that those entities have nothing to do with audio equipment. Which – in essence – sounds true.

Only that big, international corporations with literally boundless financial means tend to protect their brands with a vengeance. And will usually successfully squish any resemblance to any of their brands anywhere.

And I don’t see that zeal from the Nagra folks, as all the pre-cited entities still exist.

So, what now?

You see, the legal eagles at the Kudelski Group need to find their very own solution to their impediment. And there’s a variety of creative ones out there that will not potentially harm their brand.

In other words, none should include taking legal action against small entities that – in a sense – might put their very own equipment to good use. They’ll just end up alienating an industry that actually should be THEIR main proponent.

Besides, marketing by lawsuit has never been a stellar instrument to improve sales. Much to the contrary.

So, maybe the Kudelski group may want to rethink their approach towards Tanagra, the band.

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