Intellectual Property Law: Artistes of Great Britain


“Accordion Artistes of Great Britain” are a group of 6 accordion players (3 men and 3 women) who perform musical parodies of well-known songs and musical pieces. All members of the band wear evening dress and sit in a line, reading from music stands and entertaining the audience with comic asides between tunes. The group has been active since 2010, and has a loyal following, though it mostly plays to provincial venues. The group has a signature tune (written by George, the band leader, but jointly owned by the group) which it plays at the beginning of concerts, entitled “You are accordioningly invited..”

The group has recently become aware of the existence of another band, called “United Kingdom Accordion Artists”, which plays concerts at the same provincial venues. This second band also consists of 3 men and 3 women, who also wear evening dress and sit in a row behind music stands. However, their musical set consists of parodies of tunes not played by “Accordion Artistes of Great Britain”, but they do play a version of “You are accordioningly invited..” at the end of their show. Negative internet reviews of “United Kingdom Accordion Artists” show that members of the public believe them to be the same as, or related to “Accordion Artistes of Great Britain”.

“Accordion Artistes of Great Britain” have themselves received a letter from the estate of the late David Bowie, advising that “Your parody of our late client’s tune, “A Space Oddity”, is considered to be copyright infringement.” 

Advise “Accordion Artistes of Great Britain” as to the following:-

a) Whether David Bowie’s estate will be successful in a copyright infringement action.
b) Whether they can take copyright action against “United Kingdom Accordion Artists” for their use of “You are accordioningly invited..”
c) What action, if any, they can take under passing off against “United Kingdom Accordion Artists”

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