A British indie band is being sued by the owner of easyJet after it alleged they were ‘damaging’ its reputation with their behaviour after its singer shouted ‘f*** the Tories‘ at a festival and got so drunk he had to carried off stage at a gig.
EasyGroup, which owns the airline, has filed court documents alleging that Leicester-based band Easy Life is also exploiting its ‘valuable reputation’ to sell merchandise to its fans.
The company, which is run by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, is seeking a ‘substantial’ amount of money for trademark infringement over merchandise including a poster used by the band that showed an image of a plane with easyJet’s colours, as well as t-shirts that show a logo similar to the company’s.
The band is also accused of risking damaging the reputation of easyJet’s parent company, easyGroup, after releasing a 2020 EP titled ‘who gives a f***’, repeatedly swearing on stage and offering fans to stay behind and take drugs with them backstage.
Easy Life said the claims were ‘hilarious’ and apologised to fans who had ‘bought gig tickets and ended up on a budget flight to Tenerife’, adding they are ‘certain in no way have we ever affected their [easyGroup’s] business’.
The band Easy Life, pictured, say they are being sued by the owner of easyJet over their name
Court documents allege the Leicester-based band used easyGroup’s brand to sell merchandise
In a statement posted online the band called the accusations ‘hilarious’ and insisted they were ‘certain in no way have we ever affected their [easyGroup’s] business’
In August, at a concert at Oxford’s O2 Academy, one band member encouraged the audience ‘to stay behind and take ketamine with them’.
Earlier this year, at a gig in Glasgow, lead singer Murray Matravers was carried off stage by band members after ‘getting so drunk’ on whisky, the performance was abandoned.
The previous year in Glasgow, at TRNSMT Festival, Matravers shouted ‘F***, F*** the Tories’, ‘you’re all crazy c****’ and ‘you’re all crazy motherf***ers’ on stage.
EasyGroup is the private investment vehicle of Sir Stelios. It licenses the brand to 156 businesses beginning with the word ‘easy’ including ‘easyJet’, ‘easyMusic’ and as of August 2022, the catalogue retailer ‘Easylife’.
The trade mark claim, which was submitted in the High Court on September 6 also focuses on the band’s tour promoting its debut album ‘Life’s a Beach’ in 2021 and 2022.
The tour dates were announced on an ‘airplane poster’ which easyGroup claim uses an easyJet plane where the airline’s name has been swapped with the words ‘easy Life’ in the same font and style.
The band also released merchandise in the same style. While no longer for sale, easyGroup has managed to find pictures via social media to support its claim.
The company argue given the scale of easyJet’s reputation, Easy Life knew the design would ‘capture the attention of consumers’ and deliberately ‘profited from that exploitation’.
Stelios’s lawyers add: ‘Regardless of whether the link was intended to be provocative or humorous, such benefit is unfair because it constitutes riding on the coat tails of the valuable reputation [of easyJet].’
EasyGroup says it can’t work out the total cost of damages the band has allegedly caused but expects ‘that it will be substantial’.
In a statement released on Monday, October 2, the band said: ‘
‘Okay… we never imagined having to do this but we’ve no choice but to address the situation we find ourselves in.
‘As some of you already discovered, we are being sued. easyJet are suing us for being called Easy Life. They’re forcing us to change our name or take up a costly legal battle that we could never afford.
‘We’ve worked hard to establish our brand and I’m certain in no way have we ever affected their business. Although we find the whole situation hilarious, we are virtually powerless against such a massive corporation.
‘I don’t really know what else to say, we will keep you lot updated.
‘For those of you that bought gig tickets and ended up on a budget flight to Tenerife, I apologise. For the rest of you, thank you so much for all your support.’
Easy Life were formed in Leicester in 2017 and found acclaim in 2020, winning NME Best New British Act and coming second in the 2020 edition of the BBC’s Sound of… annual poll of music critics and industry figures.
EasyGroup alleges that merchandise for the band, including this poster showing a plane with similar colours to easyJet, is trademark infringement
Lawyers have submitted a picture of an Easy Life t-shirt that bears a logo similar to easyGroup in the back
EasyGroup-owned EasyLife sells ‘problem-solving products for the home and garden”
A spokesperson for easyGroup told the BBC: ‘Stelios [Haji-Ioannou] and easyGroup founded and now own the right to the easy brand name.
‘Other companies, including Easylife [the catalogue company], pay annual royalties for its use as part of their business strategy.
‘We cannot allow others to simply use it free, gratis and for nothing. That would be unfair.’
Cayman Islands-domiciled EasyGroup-owned EasyLife describes itself as a ‘retailer and distributor of problem-solving products for the home and garden’ – such as garden hoses and weed killer.
EasyGroup hosts a page on its website entitled ‘brand thieves’, on which it boasts of legal victories against businesses it says have infringed upon its intellectual property.
‘Some people think they can make a fast buck by stealing our name and our reputation,’ it says.
The most recent post is from December 2019, when EasyGroup achieved a court order against Swiss hosting provider Exoscale which had been hosting an online betting portal known as Easybet.
‘EasyGroup and Sir Stelios have today claimed another victory in their efforts to cease infringing activity of brand thieves against the easy family of brands,’ the group said.