So Who Owns the Word “Kraftwerk?”

Trademarks can be a tricky proposition. When Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider formed their electronic band in 1970, they called it “Kraftwerk,” which is German for “power plant” or “power station.” Forty-five years later, a German electronics company called eZelleron, is marketing a fuel cell-based power supply/charger for mobile electronic devices. They call it “Kraftwerk” because it is a portable power plant.

Kraftwerk (specifically Ralf Hütter, who owns the trademark has sued.

Here’s where it gets complicated. Hütter’s trademark also extends to areas of video and optical data–in other words, the world of electronics.  A complaint filed in Delaware (it’s a legal thing) reads “Defendant is taking advance orders for the KRAFTWERK charging device,therefore, consumers are likely to assume that there is a connection, association, or relationship between the famous electronic Music band and a charger for portable musical-playing devices.”

The Hollywood Reporter explains further:

The German translation of “Kraftwerk” is “power station.”

That arguably makes it descriptive, meaning Hutter will have to show secondary meaning. Fortunately for him, most Americans don’t know German. But can Hutter get online service providers and fundraising platforms to remove references to eZelleron’s Kraftwerk? That’s what he and his attorney, Jamie Edmonson at Venable, are demanding. Will that break the online machine? Cue the looped drum roll.

Read the whole article here.



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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