BigHit Entertainment and the popular department store company, Shinsegae, are currently in conflict over the copyright of “BTS“.
BigHit had obtained the copyrights to the name “BTS” a month before the group’s debut back in 2013. They purchased the copyright to 2 different categories – stationary sales and CD.
According to the patent office, the conflict between the two corporate giants occurs in the clothing category. BigHit tried to file a copyright claim for the category back in April 2014, but it was denied as it was too similar to Shinhan Corporation‘s copyright to “BTS BACK TO SCHOOL”. Shinhan obtained the copyright in 2001.
In March and April of 2017, right as BTS’s global fame was heating up, Shinsegae tried to obtain the copyright to “BTS” in the clothing category. They claimed it was the initials for their clothing brand, “BOON THE SHOP”. They filed for 8 different classes – clothing, shoes, hats, cosmetics, accessories, leather, wholesale retail, and internet shopping malls.
In September 2017, the patent office denied their request under the same conditions as BigHit’s claims back in 2014. As a result, Shinsegae bought the copyrights in February 2018 from Shinhan Corporation and applied for the copyright to “BTS” under the 8 classes in the clothing category.
BigHit disputed the copyright application, claiming that it was abnormal for Shinsegae to fight for the copyright just when BTS was becoming a global household name. BigHit filed their dispute in July 2018, and the patent office announced their agreement in December.
The patent office announced that since “BTS” corresponds to the popular K-Pop group, Shinsegae’s trademark applications cannot be accepted.
Shinsegae then requested for an appeal as they claimed “BTS” is simply an English abbreviation and their applications should be considered under their initial application conditions from back in 2017.
The patent office announced their final decision at the end of 2019, where they revealed that although Shinsegae claims they’ve used “BTS” as the abbreviations for “BOON THE SHOP”, it was mostly used as a time-efficient word between the internal employees.
Shinsegae is reportedly planning to continue their fight against BigHit with the patent office. Reports predict that if Shinsegae continues to file a 2nd and 3rd appeal to the courts, the rulings may continue well into 2021.
BigHit Entertainment and Shinsegae had tried to reach a settlement back in the first half of 2019. But Shinsegae reportedly demanded monetary compensation and the co-use of the copyright. BigHit found it to be unreasonable and rejected the settlement.
BigHit announced that they will continue using all of their power to make sure that another company will not be allowed to have unauthorized use of BTS’s brand power through copyrights.
BigHit considers any unauthorized use of copyrights related to BTS or attempts of a 3rd parties trying to acquire its rights as a serious issue.
We will do everything that we can in order to prevent other companies from monopolizing or using the copyright to ‘BTS’.
— BigHit Entertainment