In 2007, Girls’ Generation came onto the K-Pop scene. In 2015, the girl group won the sole legal right to use the name “Girls’ Generation.”
On Tuesday, the South Korean Supreme Court declared that SM Entertainment was the only company that owned the trademark rights of the name “Girls’ Generation,” ending a lengthy legal battle. Since 2007, SM Entertainment has filed numerous suits against a business operator, known as Kim, who had registered the name ten days after the girl group’s debut in 2010.
The Korean Court overturned a previous decision from 2012, when it was ruled that Kim’s products -mostly toys and clothes- would not be confused with the girl group.
According to the Korea Times, Girls’ Generation’s “high level of brand awareness” led to SM Entertainment winning the case.
The most recent decision determined that the name “Girls’ Generation” is synonymous with the girl group due to their popularity, and could potentially mislead consumers into believing that the girl group had a relationship with Kim’s products.
SM Entertainment filed registered the trademark prior to Girls’ Generation’s debut, ahead of Kim filing the name.
The court case has been going on since 2011, when SM Entertainment filed a complaint with Korea’s Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board. The board initially favored with SM Entertainment, but Kim petitioned and filed a lawsuit against SM within the Patent Court of Korea. The Supreme Court’s decision overturned the previous decision made by the Patent Court.
Tamar Herman is a multi-media journalist and the co-founder of KultScene. She is a freelance writer and copy editor, and has written for MTV Iggy, Noisey, and Paste Magazine.