[OP-ED] BEAST no more? K-pop Groups & The Battle For Their Name

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(Photo Credits: CUBE Entertainment)

5-member male K-pop idol group, Highlight or formerly known as BEAST (B2ST), was embroiled in a legal battle for the rights to continue using their group name. Highlight is definitely not the first case involving legal issues regarding a group’s name and looking at the K-pop scene now, they’re unlikely to be the last.

BEAST was formed in 2009 by CUBE Entertainment and consisted of six members. The group was led by Yoon Doojoon and its members were Yong Junhyung, Yang Yoseob, Lee Gikwang, Jang Hyunseung and Son Dongwoon.

Hyunseung was announced to have officially left the group on 19th April 2016 after a series of photos showed that he was engaging in other activities at the expense of BEAST’s group schedules. There were also claims that he was unenthusiastic during group appearances prior to his departure.

How did it happen?

BEAST continued activities has a 5-member group until their contracts expired in mid-2016 and the members have since left CUBE Entertainment and formed their own entertainment company, Around US Entertainment.

The former members of BEAST however, were faced with a new problem – They weren’t allowed to use the name that they’ve been promoting with for the past 7 years. BEAST is a registered trademark under CUBE Entertainment at least for the next 10 years. This means that the they were unable to release new albums, perform and promote under the name “BEAST”.

After assumably unsuccessful negotiations, the former members of BEAST have decided to promote under a new group name, Highlight. This was inspired by their latest studio album and the members have all expressed that they wish to have a new beginning with their new name.

Were there similar cases in the past?

Highlight was not the only group to have gone through this predicament.

Shinhwa was caught in a long-term legal battle because their name Shinhwa legally belonged to as many as three different media companies. As a result, they had to change their company name from Shinhwa Company to ShinCom Company and for a few years, their album covers only bore the Shinhwa logo but not the name of the group. (See below)

The Classic, Shinhwa
(Photo Credits: Shinhwa Company)

They eventually settled with the conflicting parties outside of court and obtained the rights to their name in 2015 and has since then been able to proudly promote legally under the name “Shinhwa”.

So what’s the future for Highlight?

A name-change does not spell the end of their problems for the group. A group’s name acts like a brand for the group because it holds a certain value. Factors such as brand recognition, brand recall and so on are important to a group as it determines how they stand in the eyes of advertisers and investors.

This plays a big role in the promotional activities for the group as it is advantageous for a group to gain more exposure but they are faced with the danger that their group name is foreign to the mainstream crowd. As a result, advertisers, brands and investors might look at this as an unfavourable situation as the group is not as “recognisable” anymore.

The signature “so BEAST” introduction will have to be altered, their group logo, the whole feel of the group is uprooted and put away.

What doesn’t change though, are the skills the members possess and have honed over the years as idols running at the forefront of the Hallyu wave. By increasing the number of TV appearances and explaining their situation which resulted in a name change could possibly drive some positive publicity for the group.

Despite all the conflicts, it seems like everyone is looking forward to a new start. We wish Highlight all the best on their upcoming journey!

So what are your thoughts? Does the rights of the group’s name belong to the company or the group? Share with us in the comments section below!

Article by:  Cass Zheng @ KAvenyou

Sources: 1 | 2 

KAvenyou: Singapore to Korea – Music, Wanderlust, Foodie, Lifestyle.

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