As we all know by now, Peter Okoye has informed the public he is now a solo artist with a new artist stage name ‘Mr. P.’ We also know that he has issued a letter to Square Records’ lawyer, Festus Keyamo, the company owned by the P-Square band, seeking a legal dissolution of P-Square. So, it is rather interesting to see Peter actively promoting his new solo brand with the P-Square brand. His action raises both contract and intellectual property issues that artists in general should be aware of in band breakup scenarios.
Artists, when you decide to team up with others to form a band, one of the key things you need to discuss and sort out, beyond choosing and trademarking your band’s name, is what happens to the band name in the case of a falling out?
The following should be part of the questions you ask and answer:
- Who owns the band name trademark?
- Can all bandmates use the band name if the band splits or changes members?
- If one band member exits, can that exiting band member still use the band name?
- If a band member who leaves is permitted to use the name, how should he or she use the name for his or her promotional events etc?
The answers to the above should be included in your band partnership agreement which you should have an entertainment lawyer help you draft. Often, however, many bands omit this step and do not even have a band partnership agreement. This creates a very complex situation and unfortunately the type of situation we are witnessing among the P-Square band members.
At this point, if Paul and Jude Okoye disagree with Peter’s use of ‘P-Square’ to promote his Mr. P gigs, because of obvious reasons, including creating a brand dilution, they will need to sue him to make him stop.