Performing artists beware - Protection is needed
Who is David Junior Ngcobo? Most people probably wouldn’t know. But if you ask “who is Nasty C?”, most people in South Africa who are below retirement age will know exactly who you’re talking about.
Nsikayesizwe David Junior Ngcobo is the South African rapper, song writer and record producer known professionally as Nasty C. Born in 1997, Nasty C released his debut album in September 2016 at the age of 19 and became a household name almost instantly.
It seems, though, that he may not be able to use his well-known professional alias for much longer.
It has been very recently reported in the press that after having a fall out with his former management company, Freeworld Music, Nasty C has now received a cease and desist letter from them, calling on him to immediately cease using the stage name because he does not own the rights to it.
It does not seem that anyone has registered, or filed applications to register, “Nasty C” as a trade mark in South Africa, so it is not immediately clear what Freeworld Music is basing this claim on or which party has the strongest rights to the name.
What is clear, though, is that a performing artist’s stage name can very quickly become a household name and, as such, a very valuable brand. It is vitally important for performing artists to ensure that their stage names are protected and that they do not unwittingly sign away their rights to their stage names in the excitement of signing a contract with a record label or talent management company.
The best way for a performing artist to protect his or her stage name is to register the name as a trade mark and since trade marks are territorial in nature, this should be done in all countries where the artist has a market.