The legal process concerning the above and Martin Turner’s use of the name Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash has now reached its conclusion.
Andy Powell filed legal action to prevent Martin Turner’s use of the Wishbone Ash brand for his performances and recordings, alleging that such use was an infringement of the trademark “Wishbone Ash”, which Mr. Powell had unilaterally registered in 1998 without the consent or knowledge of the co-owners of the name - the core members of the classic line-ups – Martin Turner, Steve Upton, Ted Turner and Laurie Wisefield – who had at no point sold or otherwise forfeited their rights. The action brought against Martin Turner left him no option but to defend himself and with the support of the other core members of the classic line-ups, file a counter claim, as they believed Mr. Powell’s registration should be shared with the other core members, this being supported by all the legal advice received throughout.
At no point did Martin Turner, Steve Upton, Ted Turner or Laurie Wisefield attempt to prevent Andy Powell from performing as Wishbone Ash. Meanwhile, Mr. Powell sought to prevent Martin Turner from using "any composite sign which includes Wishbone Ash as an element, as a trade mark, trade or business name, band name, domain name, corporate name, adword, keyword or metatag in relation to any goods or services" - i.e. which was described as trying to take away his CV and allowing him less privileges than a tribute band.
On September 19/20th 2013 the case was heard in London, with the judgement handed down on October 25th 2013 perversely upholding Mr. Powell’s registration of the trademark, creating outrage amongst sectors of the fanbase and music industry, which associated the name Wishbone Ash with the musicians who created iconic works such as “Argus”, “Pilgrimage”, “Live Dates”, “New England” and “There’s the Rub” and delighted millions of fans worldwide through its electrifying live performances that are still talked about with great affection to this day.
Mr. Powell was, however, unsuccessful in his totalitarian attempt to prevent Martin Turner making use of the Wishbone Ash name in the description of the contents of his live performances, or with reference to his heritage with the classic line-ups of the band.
A stay was put in place to allow Martin Turner the opportunity to appeal the decision, resulting in business continuing as usual for Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash, as has been the case over the past few months.
On February 19th 2014, a Lord Justice [Kitchin] at the Court of Appeal accepted there was an error of law in the first hearing of not considering ownership of goodwill as part of bad faith but he was not prepared to overturn the findings of fact made when the Recorder did consider ownership in the context of the claim for an account. There is an illogical disconnect in that reasoning and it’s unjust but wasn’t overturned.
While this is obviously disappointing and doesn’t make sense, Martin Turner respects a decision has been made and is now focussed firmly on his continuing musical career without further distraction, as he continues to perform the celebrated works of the classic Wishbone Ash line-ups and develops new material that is a continuation and extension of the creativity that was so prevalent across the definitive works of Wishbone Ash during the band's most critically and commercially successful periods.
Martin Turner continues his "Written in the Stars - Live Dates 2014" tour with his current touring line-up, under his chosen revised banner of "Martin Turner plays the music of Wishbone Ash".
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Martin Turner continues work on material for a new studio album with his current band consisting of Ray Hatfield, Danny Willson and Tim Brown.
Martin Turner's recently re-designed website will continue on a business as usual basis under a new address, www.martinturnermusic.com
Martin Turner retains use of the www.wishboneash.co.uk address, which will specifically include historical information on the classic Mk.1 and Mk.2 line-ups of which Martin was part.
Martin Turner is allowed to reference his membership of “Wishbone Ash” in his ongoing artwork and PR materials [despite Andy Powell petitioning for its exclusion].
The above complies with all legal requirements, post-judgment.
As regards outstanding royalty disputes with Mr. Powell, who admitted under oath that he had kept other band members’ shares of an advance royalty payment for the Distillation set, these matters are a separate issue and there remains an unresolved lengthy list of similar incidents, noting that Powell v Turner was not a copyright case.
Martin Turner looks forwards positively to the next chapter in his career:-
"I remain saddened that Andy Powell insisted on pursuing this course of action, rather than engaging in meaningful discussion and negotiation to establish a fair and non-divisive way forwards, as we would all have preferred - even keeping doors open for future collaboration. The decision is perverse, lawyers and barristers are shaking their heads at the injustice. From the minute I received the first demands from lawyers to hand back all my Wishbone Ash ownership in 2004, the legal advice, from several highly qualified advisors, has been consistent, that as a co-owner of the name I must have rights in the trademark and it would be perverse not to be able to use my name as a prefix to the name I co-own. As for confusion, how can any fan really be confused if “Martin Turner’s” is placed before the name? As has been said before, that’s a pretty good clue. Does anyone really believe this case will drive me out of the music business? Or rewrite my history with Wishbone Ash?
I still can’t get my head round the benefits to anyone of the court actions taken against us, since 2004, ironically since before MTWA started. Ultimately there are no real "winners" in cases such as this and it would appear to me all that Mr. Powell has succeeded in is doing public damage to the good name of Wishbone Ash and dividing a fanbase that is for the most part happy to enjoy the music and performances of all the musicians associated with Wishbone Ash. I understand further appeal options may have been open to me, but I have no wish to protract a process which is damaging the Wishbone Ash legacy. Sooner or later it is time to move on. Now is that time.
Certainly if Mr. Powell wanted to put me out of business, he should have been aware that I was made of stronger stuff. At the very least, the court has heard that I never willingly left the band. It has been made clear that even though there is no legal doubt the brand is own by 5 of us, the trade mark is a different matter and we should have objected to the registration earlier. This makes no sense to us, but it is what it is. This is a major lesson to youngsters starting out in the industry – be very careful, there is more to being an artist than just being an artist. Injustice is just around the corner if you’re not careful.
I accept I have to respect the law - and I will respect the law, even if it seems unfair.
I wish to thank all who have supported me during this particularly unpleasant chapter - my family, my management team, my legal team and the legions of fans who have offered their support both in person at shows and also through the many messages received via e-mail, Facebook, etc. I also thank sincerely my colleagues from the classic line-ups of the band - Steve Upton, Ted Turner and Laurie Wisefield - as well as my current band of Ray Hatfield, Danny Willson and Tim Brown.
With this sorry and unfortunate episode now behind us, we can at last focus firmly on the job in hand - that of continued exploration of the extensive Wishbone Ash back catalogue, together with moving forward with new studio music. There is a great feeling within my band right now, with a rejuvenated line-up that I believe has great creative potential, our work on both the live stage and the rehearsal room having been very exciting so far. I look forward to seeing you on the road as we continue our celebration of the music that has connected us through the years.
So we move on, and I urge the entire Wishbone Ash family to come together without negative feelings towards each other. Let the music now speak. Sing. Play nicely together. Let’s please put the bitterness behind us and move on positively. As we grow older and wiser we become more circumspect. I have to accept that this was my destiny whether I like it or not. We cannot avoid our destiny - Written in the stars.”