All has not been well ever since Ghana Music Week (GMW) was launched by the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) about a fortnight ago.
Ghanaians have been bombarded with numerous news items containing accusations and counter-accusations almost on a weekly basis from the camp of those contesting ownership of the trademark ‘Ghana Music Week’.
There is the school of thought who are of the view that the name belongs to all musicians in Ghana and that no musician has any right to claim ownership. What could the reason be?
This whole brouhaha brings the following questions to fore which I believe must be on the lips of industry players and stakeholders: Who are the real owners of ‘Ghana Music Week Festival’ and ‘Ghana Music Week’, Do they have anything in common? And who has the right to organise an event using the name?
Are Kwaw Kese and his manager trying to be disingenuous to falsely claim ownership under the pretext of having registered it? Or is MUSIGA fighting for the name because the association was the first to organise an event using the name?
Whatever it is that I am saying here is not new to people who have been following the unfortunate clash between the music union and two of its members. The clash of words is not something to be proud of. Based on what is happening the law must be made to work, and that is why I am calling for the registration of the trademark to be scrutinized.
What is going on currently between Artist Manager, Fennec Okyere, Rapper Kwaw Kese of Mad Time Entertainment and MUSIGA, the organisers of the festival should be a worry to all stakeholders in the entertainment industry and not only those in the music fraternity.
If a truce is not found in the coming days, I would urge the Attorney General to order an investigation and review of the registration of the ‘Ghana Music Week Festival’ trademark. If this is done and a solution is found, it will forestall any disagreement in the future.
The second edition of the Ghana Music Week Festival was launched a fortnight ago. The week-long celebration of Ghanaian music is scheduled to come off from March 3 to March 9, 2014, at the National Theatre, Accra Sports Stadium and other venues in Accra which are yet to be announced.
The activities lined up for the festival looks great; they are rich in content depicting that enough work has been put into it. From the way it looks, a lot of lessons have been learnt from the first edition that took place in March, 2013.
According to the organisers, this year’s edition which was launched as ‘GMW’ will be centered on educating musicians through seminars and forums to be organised by MUSIGA and its partners.
The main festival is about music and dance. However, this year attention and will also be given to comedy. The featival will be celebrated under the theme: ‘Positioning Ghanaian Music as heartbeat for Tourism Promotion’ and this will be carried for the next three years.
There will in addition be an awards show dubbed, ‘Ghana Honours’, which will see Ghanaian musicians award their fellows for their hard work over the years.
In his keynote address, President of MUSIGA, Bice Osei Kuffour was hopeful that the GMW “will be recognised as the biggest music festival and conference in Africa within the next five years”.
‘God helps those who help themselves’ is a popular motto that emphasises the importance of initiative. And yes, MUSIGA is not organising the festival alone. The initiative is partnered and supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, the National Theatre, British Council of Ghana, Charterhouse and Fantasy Entertainment (U.S.A).
Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare, Minister of Tourism, Culture & Creative Arts who represented the Government of Ghana has endorsed the festival.
“This is welcome news because the Government is aware of the many untapped potentials in the tourism and creative arts sector that require various forms of investments and music continues to be one of them.”
MUSIGA President, Bice Osei Kuffuor, in a speech at the media launch of the festival at Alisa Hotel said the Ghana Music Week has been re-christened GMW Festival because some members of the union who were involved in the Ghana Music Week 2013 event had gone to the Registrar General’s Department to have the trademark registered in their name.
“It’s sad but we know that no single individual or musician is bigger than the Ghana Music Week that was created for the music industry. We at the Musicians Union of Ghana believe strongly that as a union, it’s not a name that carries an event but the activities that take place. As such the union is not interested in any form of litigation whatsoever. The national executive committee chose the name GMW Festival – A Week Long Celebration of Ghanaian Music, for this year’s music celebration.
Kwaw Kese and his manager, Fennec Okyere are now trying to stop the programme because they claim to own the legal right over the brand name, ‘Ghana Music Week’. They are not enthused about MUSIGA playing around the name or seeking to play smart with the trade name-GMW.
According to Kwaw Kese and his manager, their company has duly registered the trade name, Ghana Music Week, with Ghana Music Week Festival as the event name. Reports indicate that they have documentation to prove their claims.
Now, if Fennec and his artist own the legal right to Ghana Music Week, when was it registered and why is MUSIGA talking differently?
According to MUSIGA, the festival which was held from March 4-10, 2013, was first launched in September 2012 at which Fennec Okyere and his artist, Kwaw Kese, were paid for their performance.
What is even worrying is that, according to checks by MUSIGA at the Registrar General’s Department, the name was registered in April 2013 by Kwaw Kese and Fennec Okyere, which means the ‘Ghana Music Week’ was registered almost seven months after it had been launched.
This confirms that, MUSIGA introduced the ‘Ghana Music Week’ in September 2012 but Kwaw Kese and his manager registered it in April 2013, seven months after he had performed on the show. What does the law say about this?