Shinsegae Gives Up In Dispute With Big Hit Over Trademark Rights To “BTS”

Shinsegae has announced that they will be giving up in a dispute with Big Hit Entertainment over the trademark rights to “BTS.”

It was revealed through the Korean Intellectual Property Office on January 7 that Big Hit Entertainment and Shinsegae Corporation are in a battle for the trademark rights to “BTS.”

Big Hit Entertainment claimed that Shinsegae is trying to steal the trademark for “BTS.” However, Shinsegae claimed that they were applying to trademark the acronym for their specialty boutique “Boon the Shop.”

In May 2013, one month before BTS’s debut, Big Hit Entertainment first applied for the trademark rights to “BTS.” These trademark rights applied to two types including Class 35 (sales agency for CD/stationery, etc.) and Class 41 (singer performance business).

In April 2015, Bit Hit Entertainment filed a trademark application for “BTS” in Class 25 (apparel), but they failed to gain the rights as it was similar to an already registered trademark of “BTS Back to School” by Shinhan Corporation, which was in possession of two types of trademark related to “BTS Back to School” since 2001.

Afterwards, in December of the same year, Big Hit Entertainment removed products similar to those of Shinhan Corporation’s registered trademark products in the apparel field and earned limited trademark rights for durumagi (traditional Korean overcoat), money belt (apparel), waterproof clothing, mask for protection against the cold, swimsuit, and clothingbelts.

For one month from March to April 2017, Shinsegae also filed a trademark application for “BTS” a total of eight times including for apparel. Like Big Hit Entertainment’s application, Shinsegae’s was also rejected due to similarities with Shinhan Corporation’s two trademarks. Therefore, in February 2018, Shinsegae bought the trademark rights in question from Shinhan Corporation, and in May 2018, the Intellectual Property Tribunal made the trademark announcement.

Big Hit Entertainment immediately resisted. The company objected to the Intellectual Property Tribunal’s decision by stating, “It is absurd for Shinsegae to possess the trademark rights to ‘BTS’ when ‘BTS’ is widely known as BangtanSonyeonDan‘s name.” The Intellectual Property Tribunal accepted this, and currently the trademark rights to “BTS” regarding apparel are not possessed by anyone.

A source from Big Hit Entertainment shared, “Although there was an opportunity to negotiate in the first half of 2019, Shinsegae requested compensation of a scale that was difficult to accept. We determined it was an unreasonable request, and the negotiation fell apart.”

Big Hit also commented that the company will do everything possible to secure the trademark rights.

Following the reports on January 7, Shinsegae announced, “Shinsegae Department Store is giving up all trademark rights related to BTS. Shinsegae is cheering on the activities of BTS, who is representing hallyu culture.”

Recently, it was also reported that Big Hit Entertainment was in a dispute with cosmetics company DREAMS KOREA regarding trademark registration issues.

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