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On the road with ‘Shinhwa’ trademark since 2003 till 2015/05/29, ShinDependence Day. The day Shinhwa finally won the full rights to their name.
As we all know, Shinhwa debuted in 1998 under SM. After the group’s contract ended in 2003, SM wanted to disband the group & offered solo contracts to only a few members. But Shinhwa refused because they didn’t want to be separated & continue as a group. Therefore they decided to switch to another agency (Good Entertainment).
Since SM couldn’t legally stop Shinhwa as the group already completed their contract, so they refused to allow the members to continue using the name “Shinhwa” and perform their songs as the rights belonged to SM. Leader Eric had loooong negotiations with SM & ended up filing a lawsuit against SM for the rights to use their name “Shinhwa “ and perform their songs produced under SM.
Shinhwa won the case and got the right to use their name and perform their songs, but had to pay royalties to SM. Since Shinhwa’s new agency back then, Good Ent. was still a small company with no enough funds to pay, so Eric stepped up and paid a HUGE sum of his OWN money to SM for the rights usage. It was really huge that he went broke afterwards. Following that, a contract was signed between SM & Good Ent.
allowing the use of the group name ‘Shinhwa’
& songs produced under SM with Good Ent. Shinhwa then resumed their activities as a group under the name “Shinhwa” with their new agency.
Shinhwa members were too innocent & trusted SM that they didn’t ask for further precautionary procedures to protect their right to use the name “Shinhwa” & songs.
In 2004, around 6 months after Shinhwa moved to Good Ent., “sweet” SM registered the trademark “Shinhwa” under SM company’s name !!. In 2005,
after completing registration of the trademark for ‘Shinhwa’, SM entrusted the trademark’s ownership to Open World Entertainment (later known as Jun Media) !!. In 2006, SM
completely transferred the ownership of the trademark to Open World Ent.(Jun Media).
(Take note that SM didn’t even transfer the trademark ownership to Shinhwa’s new agency back then, Good Entertainment !!! -_-)
In 2006, Good Ent. singed a contract with Open World Ent. (Jun Media) for the rights to use the name “Shinhwa” and perform their songs. The contract lasted until the members went into the military service hiatus in 2008.
(take note here that Open World Ent (Jun Media) didn’t register the trademark after it was handed over to them from SM in 2006. They did that later in 2013).
In 2011, Shinhwa wanted to establish “Shinhwa Company”, so Leader Eric & Minwoo held long & numerous negotiations with Open World Ent (Jun Media) & the members’ individual agencies. Finally, after really tiring meetings, they reached an agreement & signed a contract to allow Shinhwa Company the use of “Shinhwa” trademark, meanwhile open World Ent (Jun Media) manages the group’s overseas activities plus Shinhwa’s official Japan fanclub “The Legend”.
In 2012, Shinhwa, somehow, found out that Open World Ent (Jun Media) didn’t register the trademark after it was transferred to them from SM in 2006, so Shinhwa Company requested Jun Media to show proof documents that they’re indeed the owner of the trademark “Shinhwa”.
In early 2013, as Shinhwa Company didn’t get any reply from Jun media, so they filed a lawsuit against Jun Media to cancel the trademark rights usage contract and requested for the return of contractual fees as well as the profits from the 2012 concert and partial earnings from the Japan fanclub. In Feb 2013, Shinhwa Company also filed a“provisional attachment” for the trademark “Shinhwa”.
Jun Media (already hurried to register the trademark) filed a counter lawsuit saying, “We hold the rights to the trademark so pay up the profits from the 2013 concert as
stated in the contract.”
In July 2014, Shinhwa Company partially lost & won the case. They partially lost because they couldn’t cancel the contract with Jun Media as the judges stated that despite it was a belated registration, but it was effective and the trademark “Shinhwa” was and is still a trademark owned by Jun Media. As for the “name usage fees”, Shinhwa had to pay ~318,922 USD to Jun Media, a portion of their earnings from their 2013 concert. Shinhwa Company partially won as Jun Media had to pay Shinhwa ~181,509 USD, a portion of the earnings from the 2012 concert as well as from the running of Shinhwa’s official Japan fanclub.
On 26 July 2014, Shinhwa Company released a statement stating that they intended to appeal the parts of the suit that they lost.
(Take note that in 2012, Open World’s CEO Jang Seokwoo got arrested after sexually harassing trainees. Afterwards, the company changed its name to Jun Media in 2013)
On 29 Aug 2014, Shinhwa Company had officially changed their company name to “ShinCom Entertainment”
to prevent problems from growing larger in their on-going lawsuit with Jun Media back then and to prevent the use of the name “Shinhwa” being recognized as a use of the trademark rights. Shinhwa had to delete “Shinhwa” name from 11th album they already released in 2013 as well as their 12th album in 2015. They refrained from using “Shinhwa” name & used only their logo. Shinhwa said “We’ll do our best to protect the name Shinhwa. Please wait and see.”
On 20 April 2015, ShinCom Ent. & Jun Media failed to come to a compromise, so the court made a compulsory arbitration decision. Following that ShinCom Ent. representatives raised their objection.
on 27 May 2015, ShinCom Entertainment (ex Shinhwa Company) and Jun Media participated in another arbitration at the Seoul High Court and have accepted the Court’s arbitration proposal regarding the transfer of the trademark rights. An agreement was finally made over the trademark rights and ShinCom Entertainment have received the trademark rights to ‘Shinhwa’.
On 29 May 2015, Shinhwa Independence Day, the
trademark rights to “Shinhwa” was finally handed over to ShinCom Ent. They are able to use the name ‘Shinhwa’ without any restrictions in the future. Shinhwa finally got the full rights
and trademarks of their name after 12 years!
Afterwards, ShinCom Ent. changed its name back to “Shinhwa Company” after completing the process of having the name transferred.
Now, Shinhwa totally OWN their name “SHINHWA”!. After such a thorny road they had to walk through, “SHINHWA” finally belongs to Shinhwa.
Jun Media didn’t play a fair game with Shinhwa (so was SM) as Jun Media kept messing with their contract with Shinhwa, received the greatest benefits from Shinhwa’s activities. Made Shinhwa continuously pay money for them. Made Eric go through a very tough time when he wanted to establish Shinhwa Company. Threatened Shinhwa & the fans. Not to mention their CEO publicly attacked Eric & Andy on Twitter. And SM, who registered the trademark in 2004 so Shinhwa cannot use the name in the future. Sold the trademark to an agency other than Shinhwa’s … backstabbed their former group.
Can you believe how tiring & loooong this journey was! Frankly, if it was any group other than Shinhwa, I believe they would’ve given up & gone their separate ways. Shinhwa had to walk such a long thorny road that was filled with obstacles, sacrifices, losses, yet they insisted on being together as a group & fighting for their name “Shinhwa”. The kept on producing albums & appearing on shows, goofing around & joking, while having such burden over their shoulders. And the greatest thanks goes to this awesome Leader, Eric, who had to pay HUGE sum of his own money to keep the group together under the same name, studied law to defend Shinhwa, had to go to the court continuously. had to put up with Jun Media sneaky ways, got to manage the long negotiations with Jun Media to establish Shinhwa Company, got to keep the group intact all through those tough times. As the members stated, Eric struggled the most during this long journey until Shinhwa got their name back. He worked in silence, behind the scenes for Shinhwa & the fans. And we never heard him talking about what he did for Shinhwa for even once.
I’m soo proud of this group! I’m really lucky that I’m their fan. They’re incredible! Their long journey is full of life lessons that can even be taught in classes. Despite all the struggles they went through, Shinhwa never gave up and insisted on walking on the thorny path together as a group & even set up their own agency.
Happy Shinhwa Independence Day. We are SHINHWA! Always by your side ♥