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Yoko Ono says no-no to the sale of John Lemon lemonade

View profile for Christopher Buck
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After looking to bring legal action against those producing John Lemon lemonade, Yoko Ono has successfully prevented the association of her late husband’s name with the brand.

The drinks company, a small Polish company which distributes to the UK and 13 other European countries, started developing the drink brand in 2012. They registered the name, John Lemon, in 2014 and argued that this was two years before the registering of Lennon’s trademark.
Yoko was upset at the use of her late husband’s name and would not “Let It Be”. After threatening fines of £4,500 a day and over £400 for every bottle sold, the small drinks company agreed to avoid a court battle and rebrand. The drinks company knew that they would not be able to meet

Yoko’s costs and as such, from November of this year they will rebrand as “On Lemon”. As such, all of the John Lemon stock must be sold by October of this year and only the sale of “On Lemon” lemonade will be allowed from November onwards.

Yoko’s legal representation, Joris Van Manen of Hoyng Rokh Monegier said that “they were abusing and misusing the legacy of John Lennon to sell their soda.” In particular, a Facebook post depicting a mural of John Lennon holding lemons with the brand’s logo underneath was referenced in showing how the brand was misusing Lennon’s name. This was further supported by advertising materials portraying Lennon’s distinctive circular glasses accompanied by song lyrics.

Despite Karol Chamera, the founder of Mr Lemonade Alternative Drinks Ltd, insisting that UK sales of the John Lemon lemonade have not been linked to Lennon's name or image, the decision to rebrand will come into effect in just over a month’s time. Both the real risk of litigation, and the funds required to support the same appear to have led to the decision to continue making the drinks under the new name.

Expert advice

It is always worth considering what, if any, implications may arise from any actions you are looking to take. Whether that be looking to develop works without infringing the rights of the original material, or protecting your own original material from infringement.
If you would like further information in relation to copyright matters, whether that be protecting your own interests or ensuring you are not breaching the rights of others, our experienced Intellectual Property team would be delighted to assist.


 

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