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BTS seek court order stopping bootleg merch sales alongside upcoming Vegas shows

By | Published on Monday 28 March 2022


Reps for BTS last week made a filing with the courts in Nevada seeking to stop the sale of unofficial merchandise alongside an upcoming run of shows at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

The filing was made by the company behind the K-pop outfit – HYBE – and targets all and any people or companies who are planning to sell unofficial BTS tat while the group are in Vegas, with defendants simply listed as John Doe, Jane Doe and XYZ Companies.

“Plaintiffs bring this action to prevent the sale of counterfeit and infringing ‘bootleg’ tour merchandise in connection with BTS’s concert performances at Allegiant Stadium, both at the concert venue itself and at official vending sites that will be operated nearby”, the lawsuit states. “If such counterfeit and infringing activities were permitted to continue, it would cause substantial harm to plaintiffs, their licensees, and BTS”.

“BTS has used its inherently distinctive name and trademark to identify officially authorised goods and services and to distinguish it from other musical performing groups”, the legal filing goes on. “BTS has, among other things, prominently displayed the trademark in advertising and promotional material; in and on compact discs, audiotape boxes, and streaming services; and on merchandise, including the tour merchandise”.

And just to be clear, “plaintiffs and BTS have realised, and expect to realise, substantial income from the sale of merchandise bearing BTS’s trademark (including the tour merchandise), and hundreds of thousands of such items have been sold throughout the United States”.

So, there’s lots of cash for BTS to make. Unless, of course, the pesky bootleggers get in their way. “Upon information and belief, defendants have engaged, and will continue to engage, in the unauthorised manufacture, distribution and sale of inferior merchandise bearing BTS’s trademark in the vicinity of the Vegas shows. Plaintiffs believe that the defendant bootleggers and counterfeiters will sell, or attempt to sell, bootleg merchandise at or near the Vegas Shows”.

Not only will the unofficial tat confuse BTS fans, but “the bootleg merchandise is generally of inferior quality”, the lawsuit claims. “The sale of such merchandise is likely to injure the reputation of BTS and plaintiffs, which have developed the reputation for high quality associated with the tour merchandise by virtue of BTS’s public performances and plaintiffs’ sale of officially licensed BTS merchandise in connection with such performances”.

With all that in mind – and to stop the infringement of BTS’s trademarks and publicity rights, not to mention unfair competition and violation of Nevada’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act – HYBE would like the court to issue an injunction banning the sale of unofficial merch and empowering reps of the group and/or local law enforcement to seize any such merch.

It’s not the first time BTS has sought injunctions of this kind in the US. Indeed, last week’s legal filing cites injunctions previously secured in California and Illinois as justification for why the courts in Nevada should comply with HYBE’s request.

Of course, unofficial merch is usually cheaper than the official products, so while BTS and HYBE definitely lose out when the bootleggers show up outside their shows, the fans get a cheaper option, even if it is potentially of “inferior quality”.

Though given that fans who can’t afford tickets to the shows at Allegiant Stadium in Vegas have the option to buy cheaper tickets to access a live screening of the concert at the nearby MGM Grand Garden Arena, maybe the group could arrange it so that less cash rich fans can watch other fans buy official merch on a screen somewhere.