H.O.T. Wins Case Over Trademark Rights Against Former SM Entertainment Director

“Kim,” who cast and produced the group H.O.T., will no longer hold the trademark rights to the group’s name and logo.

On June 25, the court ruled in Salt Innovation’s favor in their case against former SM Entertainment director “Kim” (Kim Kyung Wook). Salt Innovation is the production company behind H.O.T.’s reunion concerts. In 2018, the company was forced to remove the group’s name and logo from the promotional materials because they could not come to an agreement with Kim over the trademark rights.

Kim is well-known as a former SM Entertainment director and the producer who was in charge of H.O.T. In 1996, while in charge of SM Planning, he cast the members of H.O.T. and came up with their group name (an acronym for High-five Of Teenagers). He also established SM Enterprise, which joined with SM Entertainment after the H.O.T. members had signed an exclusive contract.

Based on this, Kim claimed that he was the rightful owner of H.O.T.’s trademark rights. Last month, Salt Innovation filed a nullity suit (a lawsuit to declare something null and void) against Kim’s claims. In the first trial, it was stated that when Kim received permission from the H.O.T. members to use their trademark rights, the members were minors and did not have legal representatives to sign or seal the agreement. As a result, the court ruled that it could not be said that the members had signed their rights away.

Apart from this case, Kim also sued Salt Innovation and H.O.T. member Jang Woo Hyuk for violating his trademark rights in December 2018. In September 2019, the prosecution ruled that they had not violated trademark and copyright laws. Kim ended up withdrawing the lawsuit in January 2020.

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