In a landmark moment for the group, and another great step for K-Pop overall, the members of popular boy group iKON now officially own all their group trademarks following their split from YG Entertainment.
Last year, iKON said their farewells to YG Entertainment with the release of their last mini album under the agency (Flashback) and their subsequent Japan tour. On December 30, the members announced that they would be leaving YG Entertainment as a full group; just days later, their new chapter began as they signed with 143 Entertainment.
They then went on to release their first album with 143 Entertainment, Take Off, in May this year. However, while the album was released under the group name iKON, the members still technically didn’t own the rights to that name.
Keeping your group name after leaving your agency has been an age-old challenge for K-Pop acts. Take HIGHLIGHT, for example, formerly known as BEAST before they left Cube Entertainment. Similar issues occur with groups who split up after leaving their agency — such as the three members of GFRIEND who remained together and began promoting as VIVIZ.
While a name may become an integral part of a group’s identity, if it remains the intellectual property of their agency, they won’t be able to use it without legal repercussions. This puts groups in a very difficult position when it comes to unfavourable contract renewals.
Some idols strike gold with loopholes — for example, former LOONA‘s Kim Lip, Jinsoul, and Choerry, who can still release music as ODD EYE CIRCLE after BlockBerry Creative failed to trademark the unit name. However, for most stars, its an uphill battle.
That’s what makes the recent iKON move all the more joyous to fans. According to the Korean Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS), all 13 trademarks for the K-Pop group name “iKON” have now been transferred to:
- Kim Jin Hwan (Jay)
- Song Yun Hyeong (Song)
- Kim Ji Won (Bobby)
- Kim Dong Hyuk (DK)
- Koo Jun Hoe (Ju-Ne)
- Jung Chan Woo (Chan)
Why 13? Each trademark covers a particular classification of goods or services that iKON needs to succeed. One, for example, is for print materials like albums with photobooks and posters, while another covers advertising and marketing.
Particularly serendipitous is that the rights were officially transferred on August 23: the same day iKON released emotional mid-tempo track “Panorama,” which many say showed a new side to them.
Now, K-Pop fans can only hope that the implications of iKON’s success continue to reverberate through the industry.
Every day is iKON independence day!
iKON now own full rights to their group, EVERY member has OFFICIAL rights to iKON trademark,no one else.They might've lost few songs to YG that can never be played/released but they gained freedom🔥 Kpop idols should learn from these fighters💪 pic.twitter.com/SV9nEWAEir
— 🍀 ViCEMiR 🌒 | #StopTheWar 🕊️ (@droptheroar) September 9, 2023
They join the likes of INFINITE and GOT7, who were also able to secure the rights to their group names in the wake of their agency departures. The more rights these idols retain, the more artist-friendly the world of K-Pop contracts will become.