- Shinhwa left SM to Good Ent in 2003. SM sued them for name+song use rights and Shinhwa counter-sued. They went to court to fight for it and Shinhwa won (*there are sources who said that they only won the rights to use their name and songs, but not their old fishbone logo and several other things. It is unclear whether they still have to pay for singing their old songs or not. But let me make it clear, what they won was the RIGHT TO USE, not the actual trademark right.).
- Shinhwa’s initial contract with Good Ent expired in 2006 (they extended the contract with Good later on). SM then transferred the right to Open World Ent (J Media) in 2005 and J Media completely took over the right in 2006
- Unknowingly, J Media didn’t register the trademark because they didn’t know
- From then on, Good Ent “was contracted” with Open World to allow Shinhwa using their name until they went to army hiatus. Open World/J Media still held the right.
- In 2011, Shinhwa established Shincom under the permission of Open World Ent who held the right. Open World said Shinhwa can use their name as long as they remain Shinhwa, at that time (read more: shincom establishment and how the company worked). Shinhwa+Good Ent apparently never knew Open World Ent never registered it.
- Therefore, in 2012, Shinhwa asked J Media to show the proof they hold the right but J Media didn’t answer. They then unilaterally notified them of the cancellation of their contract, and filed a lawsuit asking for “the return of a portion of the profits from the 2012 concert and running of the Japan fan club in accordance to the contract”. Shinhwa partially lost the case, because they can’t cancel their contract with J Media regarding royalties for ‘name use fee’. But Shinhwa won the case partially because J Media can’t prove they have the trademark in 2012 and J Media has to pay Shinhwa for that.
- Shinhwa Company filed a “provisional attachment” for the Shinhwa trademark in Feb 2013.
- However, Jun Media filed a counter lawsuit, saying, “We hold the rights to the trademark so pay up the portion of the profits from the 2013 concert as per the contract.” J Media finally can prove they have the trademark, so Shinhwa Company must pay the royalties for using ‘Shinhwa’ name from 2013 onward.
- Shinhwa lost the case partially and has to pay J Media around 97.000 USD for ‘name use fee’
- Shinhwa intends to appeal this case. Stating that “This was not a case to win the trademark but a case to determine whether there was any violation of contract and the right or wrong between Shinhwa Company and Jun Media in the usage of the trademark.” (read this carefully, NOT a case to win the trademark. They just want to determine to what extend J Media can use the trademark. IF they win the case, it doesn’t mean they’ll automatically gain the trademark, they will only pay less royalties to J Media)
- Shinhwa won’t have to change their name at all. They’ll still be Shinhwa. They just need to pay up some royalties to J Media every time they use their name from 2013 onward, as long as J Media owned the right of their name. Shinhwa didn’t have to pay the 2012 ‘name use fee’ because during that time, J Media can’t prove that they have the right so they have to return everything Shinhwa has paid to them.
- And please, it’s not SM vs Shinhwa vs J Media. Only Shinhwa vs J Media. Though you may say SM is the root of all problems, since initially it was SM who caused the right to be transferred completely to J Media.
Some of you may think “wouldn’t it be easier for Shinhwa to just change their name rather than having to face the same problem in the future?”
Yes, easier. But have you seen Shinhwa take ‘easier’ path? It’d be easier if they had extended their contract with SM. But they hadn’t stayed. It’d be easier for them to never questions J Media’s authority over trademark and just pay. But they chose to fight for their name anyway ever since they left from SM Ent.
SHINHWA has been using SHINHWA for 16 years, the same as SHINHWA has been using orange for 16 years. Can you imagine them giving it up? SHINHWA is their pride and identity that they would protect and keep as long as they stay together, at all cost.
Saw the documents pics during the week when the news was released..But I didn’t dare to put the information here as all was in Korean (legal terms some more!) and I can only understand the basic things.. But someone (THANKS VERY MUCH OMG XD) has translated the long-ass articles in Korean about this issue.. and to summarize:
- Shinhwa left SM in 2003-2004.. bringing the name ‘Shinhwa’ with them
- Shinhwa won the usage of their name and the rights to sing their songs (regardless how much they should pay for this). Moved to Good Entertainment. SM Entertainment said “will support their activities fully”, including the use of ‘Shinhwa’ name by transferring the rights to Good Entertainment.
- In 2004 (A year after they legally left), SM Entertainment backstabbed Shinhwa by registering their name. All the registration process was completed in 2005.
- SM Entertainment then sold it to Open World Entertainment (not to Good Ent in which Shinhwa is under at that time).
- However, Open World Entertainment did not register the name trademark, until 2013 AFTER Shinhwa filed a lawsuit “requesting to terminate trademark registration” because Open World/Jun Media didn’t reply to Shinhwa’s request to show that they are indeed, the owner of the trademark. The rest of the case, you can read it above.
- SM Entertainment and Open World Entertainment/J Media are sneaky bastards who keep messing up with Shinhwa DDDDDD= Though Shinhwa is a bit wrong for trusting SM Entertainment and not taking any precautionary measures to truly claim their name back then, as soon as they left.
- Shinhwa Company has filed the appeal for the recently lost battle
You can read the whole thing here
SHINHWA FINALLY WON THE TRADEMARK FOR THEIR NAME!!!!!!!
- Joon Media has agreed to transfer the right to Shinhwa.
- ShinCom Entertainment will change back to Shinhwa Company
- You can read ShinCom’s announcement here, netizens’ reaction here, and the full news translation here.