IP Rights – Rage Against the Machine tell Farage to cease and desist

US rap-rock band Rage Against the Machine have threatened legal proceedings against Nigel Farage over the name and branding of his eponymous “Farage Against the Machine” podcast.

The band’s American attorneys sent the former UKIP leader a cease and desist letter on behalf of their client on 10 July.

The band, best known for their song Killing in the Name, accuse Farage of “brazenly and unlawfully” exploiting their name and logo in the publicity for his show on the Leading Britain’s Conversation radio station.

The band have always espoused revolutionary political views, and appear to have been particularly upset by the contrast with those of the politician who came to prominence during the campaign leading up to the Brexit referendum.

“As you should know, RATM has publicly denounced the type of right-wing ideology you espouse”, their letter says, so the “attempt to associate yourself with RATM is wholly inappropriate”.

Farage’s podcast “falsely associates” the politician and his “far right political views” with the band, the letter goes on to say, the implication of which is “particularly abhorrent” to the band.
It points out that trademark law in the US, where the band resides, entitles IP rights owners to remedies such as compensatory damages, disgorgement of profits, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees in the event of a violation.

It says: “Stop using RATM’s name and logo, change the name of your podcast, and find some other target to troll. We suggest President Trump.”

Farage has not responded, and it is unclear how far the band would be able to pursue their complaint, in this jurisdiction at least, under trade mark infringement or passing off proceedings, given that the title of Farage’s podcast is not identical to the band’s name and is being used descriptively, rather that to denote the origin of goods or services. The sending of the letter nevertheless illustrates the potential difficulties and risks in adopting and referencing well-known individuals or entities with established names and titles.