Hawkwind’s Fury As Turner Registers US Name
Hawkwind say they’re upset and disappointed after former member Nik Turner advanced moves to register the name “Nik Turner’s Hawkwind” in the US – just ahead of their first North American tour in decades.
And the award-winning band are concerned that it’s the first step in a set of legal moves which could lead to them losing rights to use their own title.
The news came a day after Dave Brock, the only remaining founding member of the space-rock outfit, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Prog Awards.
Turner launched his application via the United States Patent and Trademark Office in November last year, asking for exclusive rights to use the title for “entertainment services, namely, musical performance by an individual or by a musical group.”
The band believed Turner – who was part of the lineup from 1969 to 1976 then again from 1982 until 1984 – had stopped pursuing the application, but more paperwork was filed earlier this month.
Now they fear they’re facing more issues. Hawkwind’s Mr Dibs tells Prog: “I personally feel insulted and angry. We’ve worked really hard over the six or seven years I’ve been in the band, recording and gigging relentlessly, keeping the profile high and where it should be.
“To finally get a good long American tour, and for someone to come along and try to scupper it in the most insidious way – well…”
The band’s manager, Kris Tait, says: “We think it will cause problems for Hawkwind. It will confuse fans, promoters and press.
“And it could have wider implications – If he succeeds in registering the trademark in the US, it could be very difficult to protect our brand in the UK. He could try to stop us from using the name ‘Hawkwind’ ourselves in the US, as it would be part of his registered trademark. Maybe the intention is to tie us up in litigation.”
Tait fears it could signal a repeat of the situation in the 1990s which led to the Hawkwind name being registered to Brock. In 2009 she explained: “The band put a lot of money into building up their US following. When there was finally a tour set up which was going to make a profit, Nik jumped in and undercut the shows. The then manager had to take legal proceedings against Nik and any venue who advertised him as Hawkwind, and that’s when the name was registered to Dave.”
The situation presents its own challenges, she said. “Under trademark law, if you own a trademark and someone else breaches it, you are legally bound to take action to stop them. If you do not, it is called ‘acquiescing,’ and the other party can claim the trademark as their own and stop the rightful owner from using it. Dave and the band were forced to either fight back – or lose their name.”
Talking of Turner’s most recent action she says: “It’s difficult to see any motives apart from cashing in on the work of others.
“We think it’s deliberately timed to cause maximum damage to this band and their US tour and album release. It’s a bit pathetic really, from a 73-year-old guy who should know better.”
But Turner’s US attorney, Evan S Cohen, tells Prog: “Nik Turner was a founding member of Hawkwind, and, according to many sources, was the source of the name of the band.
“The service mark ‘Nik Turner’s Hawkwind’ is not confusing, nor will it ’cause problems’ for Dave Brock’s band. Mr Turner is not calling his band ‘Hawkwind.’ Any fan or consumer who sees an advertisement for ‘Nik Turner’s Hawkwind’ knows exactly what he or she will get: Nik Turner, and not the Dave Brock version.”
There is currently no band known as Nik Turner’s Hawkwind, although his outfit Nik Turner’s Space Ritual launches a US tour on October 9 – two days after Hawkwind’s North American trek begins in Canada.