Know your rights
The members of Beyond Veronica couldn’t keep their old band name, but their advice might save yours
The Veronicas are on top of the world. The cute and fashionable twin-sister pop singers from Australia are well on their way to superstardom, having just signed a $1.5 million deal with Sire Records. If only that pesky American band from that ultimate Nowheresville, Sacramento, hadn’t been such a pain in their twin Australian asses.
It seems our hometown Veronicas not only grabbed the name first but also were pretty thorough in establishing their right to it. Not that anything stands in the way of pretty little girls with millions of dollars swirling about them. Thus, Sacramento’s power-pop fans now will dance to the sounds of the newly renamed Beyond Veronica. Still, there is some justice in the world—if you know how to find it.
Bonnie Veronica explained her need for the contested surname. “I had come to a point in my life where I was searching for something more, for whatever you want to call it, artistic growth, and so I planned a new path for myself, and that included taking on a new name.” She became Veronica. “I started using that [name] kind of as a cushion or a buffer to protect my true identity. I just liked the name. If you do the numerical transferring of letters, it came to my number, which is six.” Sharing a name with another fierce brunette named Veronica, one of the Riverdale High gang in Archie Comics, was a plus as well. A large poster of the cartoon Veronica hangs in the basement of the house Bonnie Veronica shares with Kirk Larsen, her boyfriend and the co-founder and guitarist of Beyond Veronica.
Larsen and Veronica were introduced by mutual friends who figured they might make beautiful music together, in the literal sense. The two hit it off and began playing together immediately, sharing a passion for rock and pop from the 1960s up through the paisley underground scene of the 1980s. Six months down the road, it became clear that they had more than power pop in common, and they became a couple.
The duo also began putting together a band, and a band needs a name. “We tossed around a hundred million names, like everybody else, and just went through searching and trying to find a name that was free and clear that we could use.” Veronica recalled doing things the proper, legal way from the get-go.
From the moment it settled on a name, the band began taking steps to secure it. Veronica explained how a local band should do this: “Every time your name appears in the paper, save it. I had a box with every document. You’ve got be able to prove that you used the name.”
“It’s called prior usage,” Larsen cut in. “You can register with the U.S. trademark office for 300 bucks or something, but you still have to have used the name.” This registration was a step the band didn’t take. They might have regretted that decision had they gone to court to fight for the name. But, as Larsen explained, that was not a realistic option anyway.
“We realized we were kind of being forced to sell by default because we couldn’t afford to take them to court. So, rather than [pay] their attorneys, they paid us basically,” Larsen concluded.
So, did the artists formerly known as the Veronicas laugh all the way to the bank? Not quite. Though the band is unable to discolse the financial details of the settlement for legal reasons, Larsen described the band’s feelings of powerlessness. “We didn’t like that a corporation could just kinda say, ‘This is how it’s gonna be.’”
Of course, Beyond Veronica has an identity beyond the name. Veronica and Larsen are joined by Tim Pratt on bass, Kevin Coughlin on drums and recent addition Mark Badovinac on keyboards. Beyond Veronica continues to build a following with shows booked throughout California. A new self-titled CD will be available in local stores on August 15.
Meanwhile, the twins have used some of their millions to hire songwriter Toby Gad, whose past clients include Milli Vanilli and American Idol finalist Tamyra Gray.