Big Hit Wants the US Marshals Service to Clamp Down on BTS Counterfeits

Ahead of BTS’ upcoming tour in the U.S., Big Hit Entertainment has called for a crackdown on bootleggers.

Filed at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Big Hit, the company behind superstar K-Pop boy band BTS, a preliminary lawsuit against ‘John Does.’

Big Hit has claimed an exclusive right to the BTS trademark.  Thus, the South Korean company has requested the court’s help against individual bootleggers as well as companies infringing on the copyright.

According to the entertainment company, the ‘John Does’ will remain present “in and about” the Central District of California.  BTS will kick off their ‘Love Yourself: Speak Yourself World Tour’ at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California on May 4th and May 5th.

Big Hit Entertainment has listed four causes of action against the bootleggers.

First, the unnamed ‘John Does’ have violated the Lanham Act.

BTS – dubbed ‘The Artist’ in the suit – has used its name and trademark to identify officially authorized goods and services.  This, writes the company, has allowed the boy band to distinguish itself from other musical performing groups.

Officially licensed goods and services include advertising and promotional material, compact discs, audiotape boxes, streaming services, and tour merchandise.

Thus, writes Big Hit, the trademark “has developed and now possesses secondary and distinctive meaning” to consumers.

For the world tour, Big Hit has only authorized Live Nation and CompactD to distribute official tour merchandise.

Bootleggers, however, have engaged and will continue to engage in the unauthorized manufacture, distribution, and sale of “inferior merchandise” bearing BTS’ name.  Big Hit believes they’ll sell bootleg merchandise with the same appearance as officially authorized products.

This violates the Lanham Act as the action constitutes a false designation of the source of origin of such goods and falsely describes said merchandise.  This violation will cause great injury to both Big Hit and BTS.

Second, the bootleggers have engaged in unfair competition.

As the sale of counterfeit goods has “the effect of misleading and confusing the public,” along with misappropriating and trading upon property rights, Big Hit and BTS have suffered, and will continue to suffer, great injury.  Thus, the entertainment company has no adequate remedy at law but to sue over irreparable harm and monetary loss in an amount “presently incalculable.”

Third, counterfeiters have violated the group’s right to privacy.

Using the group’s talent, Big Hit has spent time and effort in advertising, publicizing, and promoting BTS’ accomplishments.  Through “extensive commercial exploitation,” both the boy band and Big Hit have created rights of publicity under the group’s name.  In addition, BTS has selected Big Hit to manage the group’s trademark.

However, as the bootleggers continue to engage in copyright infringement, the company has suffered injury and monetary loss.

Fourth, the bootleggers have openly violated California Business & Professions Code §§ 17200.

Due to the counterfeit actions previously mentioned, the bootleggers have knowingly used the group’s name and likeness without permission.

As previously mentioned, this action has caused Big Hit and BTS to suffer irreparable injury.

So, to take down these counterfeiters, Big Hit has requested U.S. Marshals to promptly seize and impound all bootleg merchandise.  The U.S. Marshals Service will immediately destroy the false goods bearing the group’s name.

You can view the lawsuit below.