Psy’s Gangnam Style triggers patent row
By Park Si-soo
Korean singer Psy who grabs global attention with his wacky song “Gangnam Style” is likely to face trademark dispute as nine individuals and companies, including his management agency YG Entertainment, are vying to win the legal right for commercial use of the name.
The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) said Friday it is examining nine requests for the right with its decision date being undecided. Among contenders are restaurant, shoemaker, golfrelated products manufacturer, climbing gear maker, software developer and office automation firm.
YG claims its exclusive right to use “GANGNAM STYLE” and caricatured image of the singer stepping onto the capitalized English letters.
Given that the song’s viral popularity, winner will surely have huge benefit from the use of it.
Psy’s agency claims “undisputed ownership” of the name, saying it will take legal action against “anyone who takes advantage of the name to make money.” The agency sent a letter to a German online shopping mall last month, calling for stopping the sales of T-shirt that read “Keep calm and Gangnam Style” on its front side. Other products the agency is considering to ask for sales embargo is shirts that have “KangNam Style” and “GangNAM STYLE” printed on it.
“As the song wins global attention, we try to come up with various ways to generate profit with it,” said Song Eui-jin, an YG official.
Currently nobody can tell for sure who will become the final winner. But one thing clear is that YG never has upper hand in competing with other contenders.
The KIPO, in principle, makes judgment on a first come, first served basis. YG’s claim to the name’s ownership was raised later than several rivals, one of which was made as early as mid-August when the song began to earn popularity in domestic market.
Yet a KIPO official said timing is not a decisive factor in deciding a winner.
“We conduct comprehensive examination before making a judgment,” the official said. “The first applicant may have competitive advantage. But it’s not everything.”