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Beef Of The Week #382: Wu-Tang Clan v Woof-Tang Clan

By | Published on Friday 24 November 2017

Woof-Tang Clan

Trademark disputes are a strange and wonderful thing. All the more so when they involve small animals. Something that, if recent trends are of any indication, is on the increase.

Alright, I’m not sure two instances of something can really be called “a trend”. But the fact that pets have resulted in two trademark disputes in the music industry this year alone must count for something.

As previously reported, Deadmau5 and an online pet accessories store have been locked in a spiral of lawsuits, countersuits and countersuits to countersuits over the last year. This relates to a disagreement over who owns the rights to the name Meowingtons. The producer argues that he had named his cat Professor Meowingtons long before the Meowingtons pet tat selling website launched.

What’s more, he claimed, the online pet accessories website was actually named after his cat. And the founder of the shop, Emma Bassir, has been hindering the cat’s own line of merch and wider online brand by attempting to trademark the name, he argued.

Anyway, that all seems to still be working its way through the courts, so perhaps we’ll come back to it at a later date. What I brought you all here to talk about today is Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA’s new dispute with dog walking business Woof-Tang Clan.

New York-based Woof-Tang Clan offers dog walking and pet sitting services. Its website also promises that it will soon offer dog hiking, whatever that is. Walking dogs up an incline, I guess. What inclines are there in New York City though? You’d have to take them further out into the state where there are a few hills. That would surely require an overnight stay though and the website doesn’t mention dog camping anywhere. It’s a minefield this stuff.

As if the company didn’t already have enough issues attempting to source tents for dogs, it’s now got to fight off a claim by RZA who says it should not be allowed to register its name as a trademark.

According to New York Daily News, RZA has filed legal papers noting that the Wu-Tang name and logo has been “unmistakably associated” with his group since 1993. Which is true. Although Woof-Tang Clan’s logo is just its name written in crayon, so I’m not sure how that’s entirely relevant.

To successfully block a trademark from being registered, it helps if you can prove that it would cause confusion in the marketplace if the other party was allowed to use your name or something similar to it. I can only assume, therefore, that RZA is concerned that people will think this is an official Wu-Tang dog walking business. Does it keep him awake at night worried that people are expecting Method Man to swing round and pick up their poodle to go and frolic in Central Park?

Maybe he’s just annoyed that he never had the idea of getting Method Man out there walking a few dogs. I’m sure it’s something he’d enjoy, and it would fill the time between tours. Run The Jewels did that whole album made up of cat samples. How differently might things have turned out if Wu-Tang Clan had turned in a few tracks detailing their work with puppies? Had they been a bit quicker off the mark, they could also have beaten Big Boi to the dog shampoo market as well.

That didn’t happen though, and RZA and co were instead forced to sell CDs to arseholes to make ends meet. Despite that, I’m not sure anyone out there is confused about whether or not Woof-Tang Clan is officially endorsed by the actual Wu-Tang Clan.

Similarly, I’m not sure anyone thinks that unrelated Alaskan husky sled team the Woof Tang Clan is an official Wu-Tang side project either. Although their spin-off Woof-Tang Wear merch does actually bear a logo that looks a hell of a lot like the Clan’s.

Speaking to NYDN, the dog walking business’s founder Marty Cuatchon (yes, I also read that as Martine McCutcheon every single time) said: “I am a fan. We walk dogs. I thought it was a good idea”.

And maybe it is, but having a good idea isn’t enough. These things generally come down to who has the most well-connected lawyers. As a nightclub in Burnley found out in this week’s other big music-related trademark dispute.

By which I mean The Vogue nightclub in Burnley. Which, I’m sure you all know well, has been forced to change its moniker after legal reps for the magazine of the same name got in touch. Apparently they were worried that people might think that the US-based fashion title had set up a nightclub in a small town in Lancashire.

“No one’s going to think, ‘I wonder if Kate Moss is at Vogue Burnley this week?'”, co-owner Jason McQuoid told local radio station 2BR. “Everyone knows it’s nothing to do with the magazine. Bullying, I can’t think of any other word ,it’s a big business bullying a small one. They’ve made their millions, they don’t care about a little business trying to make something in Burnley”.

The magazine also had the club’s Facebook page suspended, which McQuoid says is causing them issues with promoting events over the festive period. They do still have their Twitter account however and a new Instagram account set up this week under the Vogue Burnley brand. That Instagram account will have to change its username come the new year, though, when the club has agreed to drop the Vogue in its title.

“The last thing we want to do is change our name – everybody knows Vogue in Burnley”, says McQuoid. “It’s the signs, the artwork, the logo is on everything. Even smallest of things like staff uniforms – we employ 40 people – the cost of the rebrand is going to be extensive”.

I just realised that the latter half of this beef hasn’t contained any of the promised small animals. Though I did hear that Method Man is going to take Kate Moss’s dog for a stroll down the catwalk at Vogue Burnley this weekend.