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EasyJet Aren't Making It An Easy Life For Popular UK Band

09 October 2023

EasyJet Aren't Making It An Easy Life For Popular UK Band

There are lawsuits, then there are lawsuits. And it doesn't come much more bizarre than the one that the holding company of the major budget airline EasyJet has launched against a successful music artist in the last week.

Hailing from Leicester, the indie pop band Easy Life were formed in 2017, and have had attracted major critical and commercial success since then, coming second in the BBC's annual Sound Of… poll in 2020, achieving three top 10 albums and touring extensively, as well as playing the main stages at festivals including Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds.

Now, EasyGroup, the holding company registered in the Cayman Islands, and owned by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, currently valued at £769 million, are ordering the band to either change their name or face a costly and lengthy legal battle.

In a statement released last week, an EasyGroup spokesperson said "Stelios and EasyGroup founded and [now] own the right to the Easy brand name … Other companies pay annual royalties for its use as part of their business strategy. We cannot allow unauthorised third parties to simply use it free, gratis and for nothing. That would be very unfair."

Further pressed in their statement, they have levied an accusation at Easy Life and their lead singer, Murray Matravers, that they are "brand thieves", and cite that they have "a long established record of legally stopping thieves from using our brands … and [we] are confident we will stop Mr Matravers."

Writing on the band's Instagram account, Matravers has counteracted this statement with a timeline of the band's history dating back to 2015, and observed that Easy Group's application for the trademark registration of 'EasyLife' only occurred in August last year, adding, "Sorry, who is the brand thief here?"

Later, speaking in a video uploaded to the band's Instagram last Friday (6th October), Matravers issued a statement, thanking their fans and supporters for their "outpouring of love, anger, support and compassion." He also added that, despite numerous offers of support in the form of crowdfunding to help the band take on the lawsuit, he said that "this case is going to be extremely expensive to fight in the High Court" and wouldn't go to trial until at least 2025, and would require legal backing upwards of £500k.

Matravers added: "We're not a limited company: it's our name on the lawsuit, they could take everything and we could be completely financially ruined - they know that, and they are extremely aggressive … this is no longer just about the band, but a case about corporate bullying."

Amongst those offering their support to the band are Harriet Harman, the local MP for Leicester, where the band are from, and Tom Gray, chairman for the Ivors Academy which champions musicians and music creators, who have both called for the lawsuit to be dropped. Many have compared this situation to when comedian Joe Lycett launched his protest stunt against high end fashion label Hugo Boss in 2020, when he changed his name by deed poll to Hugo Boss to highlight that no one can own the word 'boss'.

It's an accurate point for comparison - 'easy' is a commonly used word, and it doesn't belong to any one person. And as Tom Gray has rightly said on his Twitter, the band have been performing and releasing music under the name Easy Life for eight years, whilst EasyGroup only went to try and trademark the name 'EasyLife' last year. It is our view that almost all sensible people are able to tell the difference between an indie pop band with a few top 10 albums behind them, and an airline offering budget short haul commercial flights to say, Cyprus and Greece.

Ryanair, in their typically witty style, took a tongue-in-cheek stance on the situation on their Twitter account when the news broke last week, posting a humorous message which quoted a news article on the lawsuit being launched, and simply read: "Ryan Gosling prep the cash". And if that doesn't sum up more succinctly how ridiculous this legal action from EasyJet is, we don't know what does.

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