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UB40 name dispute creates family feud

Written by Ellis Sweetenham on 16 March 2016

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80’s reggae band UB40 sold over 120 million hits throughout their time at the top, but in recent years the name has been the centre of a legal battle to establish who really has the rights to use it.

Not only is there a legal battle but also a family feud has arisen as the band famously contained three brothers Ali, Robin and Duncan Campbell.

While legal action only began two years ago, problems arose a number of years back when there was a split of members with Ali Campbell and fellow band member Astro on one side and the remaining original members of the other side. These members were Robin Campbell, Jimmy Brown, Norman Hassan, Brian Travers and Earl Falconer and Duncan Campbell.

Legal proceedings occurred when Ali and Astro created a new band with Mickey Virtue, naming themselves ‘UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue’. They plan to play shows at the O2 in London in the coming months under this name.

The use of this name was opposed by the remaining original members who claimed that Ali Campbell’s band has no right to use the name ‘UB40’ in any form. To support this, they have argued that the general public associate themselves as the true members of the band. As their legal representative explained, Edmund Cullen QC, they are longing to obtain an injunction to prevent the use of the name as well as damages as they claim are passing themselves off as the true band.

The original rights to the name had been owned by the production company DEP International Ltd who have subsequently been liquidated. When this occurred, Ali Campbell states that as of June 2014, they were ‘assigned’ all the rights to use the name and the website and they are therefore acting within those rights.

This legal battle has led to the Campbell brothers not communicating since 2008.

The judgment from the High Court on this case is expected in the coming weeks.

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