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The curious and sad court case of Luv Injection sound system 

LOVE INJECTION is a reggae sound system founded in Birmingham UK in 1986 by Ian Thomas better known as KING ZUKIE from Erdington, his brother, Winston Thomas better known as WINSTON MEXICAN and Jamaican born Orville Higgins better known as CORPORAL BILLY.
 It all started in 1986 when Winston Mexican morphed his then sound system, Meshak, with his brother’s sound system Master Blaster creating Luv Injection. Throughout the decades Luv Injection has toured the world clashing and playing alongside some of the biggest sound systems from Europe and the USA and Jamaica. The sound system grew from 4 x 15’ bass boxes and 4 x midrange boxes to 36 singles 18’ scoop bins and 24 mid/hi cabs. At the last audit Luv Injection has over 5,000 dubplate specials. 
Original Luv Ijection

Luv Injection was one of the premier Sound Systems in the UK with members Winston Mexican, King Zukie, Corporal Billy, Tin Tin, DJ Mexy, CoCo (R.I.P), Remy T, Vybrant Yute, Daddy King, Colin little, Fry.

Luv Injection prided itself on being a training ground for up-and-coming DJs, selectors, and MCs who have then gone on to make names for themselves in the industry in their own rights such as Immortal and 4×4 XTC. In the last five years the sound system split up in 2016. 

 

THE  ARGUMENT

Billy and Zukie

Zukie claims LUV INJECTION  “sound” was formed in 1987 by himself King Zukie and Corporal Billy he claims Winston Mexican was invited to join later the same year. The name LUV INJECTION was chosen for the sound,  between 1987 and 2016, the sound performed with both as members up until 2016. He continued to use the trademark LUV INJECTION throughout this time, although the spelling of LUV was sometimes LOVE o LUV INJECTION o LOVE INJECTION o LUV INJECTION SOUND o LOVE INJECTION SOUND Before 1986,

Zukie states, “Me Billy and Mr. Lewis performed together as MASTER BLASTER and during this time, he discovered he had a halfbrother (Winston) who also had “created a sound” that was known as MESHACK. Meshack sound “fell apart” when a number of its members were sent to jail that’s when Winston approached Billy and, “asked if he could join our sound”. At the same time as he joined MASTER BLASTER, a few other members left and it was decided to have a new name.  Billys choice of LUV INJECTION was picked and the name was adopted later in 1986. Winston only managed bookings and made promotions as he was the oldest and because the main performance roles were already filled;  The sound “mainly used MASTER BLASTER’s equipment”.

Zukie continues the sound members were not subject to any formal agreement and did not trade as any form of a limited company but, rather, “the sound came together to perform under the trademark LUV INJECTION”.

 

According to Zukie, Winston was ejected from the sound in 2016, but it is claimed that this is not relevant to the proceedings, only that he left. The sound continued and there was no sharing of its assets therefore, the sound survived after Winston’s departure.  Winston was aware of the sound (that he left behind) and that the remaining members of the sound wished to continue using LUV INJECTION and the variants relied upon;

Zukie testifies that, over the years, he has invested his own money in the sound, including purchasing sound equipment, records, “dubplates” (recordings of top reggae artists singing songs promoting a sound), the van, recording studio time, sustenance, and other costs. Zukie continues Up until 2016 “things were OK”  there were occasional grumbles about money because Winston was taking booking money but not paying the sound members  by 2015, the bookings were getting bigger, but the sound’s members were not getting paid and were still putting their own money into the sound for things that Winston claimed he would pay for. Artists left the sound because they were not getting paid. Mr. May is better known as Tin Tin left in 2008 for this reason.

Luv Injection Jamaica performing live

 

By 2016 Zukie laments the relationship between he and Winston started to break down when circumstances meant they were unable to get together to sort out their differences regarding the promotion of an event. One of these circumstances was Winston traveling to Jamaica (for, what turned out to be, an attempt to set up another LUV INJECTION sound without the knowledge of the other members) Upon his return, Zukie wanted the sound to play some events, but Winston declined because of the passing of his mother and the need to sort out her affairs. Zukie says he was unhappy that he had to cancel some events “Things festered” during the rest of 2016 while Winston continued to promote the sound without Zukie or Billy performing.

A “clear the air” meeting was held in January 2017 where Winston stated that the sound’s name belonged to the group but that the music and equipment belonged to him and he appeared unconcerned about the money the other members had put in Winston repeated this at a further meeting in May 2017. All the founder members disagreed with him, but a way forward was agreed, namely, that allowed Winston to promote the sound without the other founding members and the others would promote events that they were playing with both parties contributing to the upkeep of the equipment and music this arrangement led to some promotors canceling Winstons booking in favor of booking Zukie and Billy.

A witness who was at the meeting alleges “the meeting ended with Winston responding to the claim that the other founding members were all entitled to a share of the sound by stating that he “would buy us all out” This led Winston to enquire as to how much to purchase the sound from the founding members, who did not want to sell. After this, Zukie says he was informed that Winston had applied to register the contested trademarks.

According to Zukie the meeting ended without agreement and between October 2016 and May 2017, the sound did not perform but Winston promoted some events for LOVE INJECTION “up North” and promoted the fact that Zukie and Billy were performing “to drum up more people to come” but other performers were sent by Winston and he “pocketed the cash”

It is also claimed that Winston threatened trademark infringement proceedings against music promoters who wanted to use LUV INJECTION sound and this resulted in the sound losing bookings. Winston attempted to launch a new sound under the same name Luv Injection Consequently, being aware of the goodwill (good reputation)  of the sound, Winston contested trademarks were made in bad faith and contrary to law.

Winston vehemently contests what his little brother says stating angrily he “has owned LUV/LOVE INJECTION SOUND since 1987 and he has never expressed the intention either verbally, or in writing, to have a partnership and he has always operated as a sole trader. Promoters and organizers of events have always dealt with me and I am known as the owner of LUV/LOVE INJECTION.”

Winston filed identical counterstatements denying the claims made and putting forward the following alternative factual background: Winston claimed that he is the founder of the sound and thus, he has never ceased to be a member and, as the founder, he has never left the sound that continues to operate. It was Zukie and Billy who ceased to be members in 2016; 

Winston claims the sound was actually formed in 1986 when Zukie and Billy left their sound and asked him if they could join his sound (at the time, called MESHAK) but that LUV INJECTION SOUND was subsequently chosen as the name for the sound;  Winston accepts that between 1986 and 2016 the sound performed with both Zukie and Winston and it was he Winston that organized the events and took the bookings during this period and also selected which members of the sound would play at given events. He states he paid for events upfront and paid the members of the sound a wage.

luv injection

Winston denied  Zukies allegation that the sound was not subject to any formal agreement and there was, in fact, a verbal agreement that Winston states he paid the members of the sound and this included paying Zukie rather than the sound was an unincorporated association, He also claimed that he operated as a sole trader and that this is substantiated by him paying, sometimes out of his own pocket, the sound’s members including Zukie when they performed. Winston also asserts he often upgraded the equipment, paid to promote events, and bought the dubplates. As a consequence, the goodwill belongs to him;

He denies that he was ejected from the sound in 2016 and, consequently, there was no need for the sharing of the assets; He also denies that he threatened promotors but states that he did make “the promoters aware of his rights” in the signs by notifying them of his trademark registration. 

The first hearing took place on 19 March 2019, with Winston representing himself and Zukie represented by Aaron Wood for Wood IP Limited. During the proceedings, Winston was cross-examined and his witnesses Ray Miller, Clinton Harris, and Tyrone Thomas better known as Tyrone Melody founder of Immortal sound as also attended for cross-examination. Zukie also had witnesses Colin Lewis, Stephen May, and Billy attended for cross-examination Zukie was also cross-examined.

Corporal Billy

On cross-examination Corporal, Billy re-confirmed much of what Zukie had said. He confirmed that MESHACK had ceased operating at the time of the demise of MASTER BLASTER and that Winston asked Zukie if he wished to join them. Billy stated that Winston said yes, subject to MASTER BLASTER being renamed. He denied Winston’s claim that it was he and Zukie who asked to join MESHACK On the issue of ownership of the sound, Billy was asked what he contributed financially to the sound. He identified “his talent” then, after some pressing, he identified money from the sale of MASTERBLASTER’s equipment.

 

THE COURT CASE

After the split Zukie on July 11th, 2017 registered  LUV INJECTION SOUND SYSTEMS LTD as a business at UK companies house and proceeded to play out along with other members CORPORAL BILLY under the name “LOVE INJECTION/ LUV INJECTION”.  At the same time Winston continued to perform along with others under the name “Luv Injection Sound”. and he also set up a promotion company called “LUV ONE LUV ALL PROMOTIONS LIMITED”  to promote LUV INJECTION SOUND. Due to Winston;’s continued unlawful use of the name LOVE INJECTION even though it was registered in 2017 by Zukie, Zukie and Billy applied to the UK Intellectual Property Enterprise Court a specialist court involved in disputes about intellectual property, such as copyright, patents, registered designs, registered trademarks. The court can order the other side to pay you compensation if you win your case. It can award up to £500,000 in damages or lost profits.
Original logo, Winston logo, Zukie Logo

 

As Zukie and Winston both claim to be the original LUV INJECTION, and each wants the other to give up the name LUV INJECTION and all rights to the dubs. The legal proceedings concern ownership of the name LUV INJECTION in the name of the original sound including who has the right to continue to use it. One owns the trademark the other the business.
In 2017 after Winston registered “LUV INJECTION SOUND” as a trademark Billy and Zukie sought to invalidate  Winstons registration on the grounds of bad faith and passing off(The law of passing off prevents one trader from misrepresenting goods or services as being the goods and services of another, and also prevents a trader from holding out his or her goods or services as having some association or connection with another when this is not true). The court upheld Zukie and Billy’s objections on the basis that Winston’s earlier rights of passing off and bad faith had invalidated the registration due to the fact after the court ruled that Winston could not register LUV INJECTION he continued to use the name LUV INJECTION and take bookings under the name. 
Zukie, Billy and Colin new Luv Injection

 

Due to Winston’s continued action in 2019 Zukie sought a court injunction against him to prevent further passing-off, transfer of the dubs, transfer or cancellation of the third mark, and damages or an account of profits. In his defense, Winston asserted he is the owner of the goodwill (Goodwill is a miscellaneous category for non-physical, but identifiable assets that are harder to parse out individually or measured directly. Customer loyalty, brand reputation, and other non-quantifiable assets count as goodwill) and he has the right to continue to use the name, logo, and dubplates in question as they no longer operate together but rather as two separate sounds. Zukie pleaded to the court that Winston should be prevented from arguing or asserting his right to LUV INJECTION. His actions claiming the goodwill contradicted what was previously agreed to by law that Winston could not register or use the name LUV INJECTION. 

THE JUDGEMENT

On June 11 2020 the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court handed down its decision on the dispute between Winston and Zukie relating to who retained the right to use the name LUV INJECTION sometimes spelled LOVE INJECTION.  Judge HHJ Melissa Clarke ruled Zukie has been vindicated in his claim that he owns the goodwill alongside Orville Higgins (known as “Corporal Billy”) and Colin Lewis (“Colin Little”), a finding first decided by the UK Intellectual Property Office in 2019 but which was largely ignored by Winston Thomas (known as “Winston Mexican”). Winston continued to argue before the Intellectual Property Court that he owned all the rights personally.
The court decision strikes out Winston’s defense that the use of the names LUV INJECTION and LOVE INJECTION by him and his promotion company did not constitute passing-off and instead it was Zukie who was committing passing-off(false representation). The UKIPO’s decision that Winston was (and is) committing passing-off stands, and Zukies case succeeds. 
 

Winston forced to pull out of the Nottingham Reggae festival

 

The Judge upheld the decision made in the original proceedings and that “Winston adhere to the findings of the court concerning those proceedings” The Judge continued that Winston’s actions in claiming GOODWILL while continuing to use the name LUV INJECTION were “an abuse of process”  the judge stated that the matter was fully litigated previously with four witnesses for each side and Zukie and Winston both had the opportunity to cross-examine each witness; The judge gave a written judgment setting out his findings and there has been no attempt by Winston to appeal it; there should be finality in litigation; neither the court nor the parties should be vexed with rehearing matters that have been heard and determined by a tribunal of competent jurisdiction”.Therefore, both parties are bound by the findings of the court. The Judge was satisfied that Winston has no real prospect of defending against the claim for cancellation of his use of the trademark “LOVE INJECTION SOUND” and therefore gave summary judgment to Zukie.The Judge also found that Winston has no real prospect of succeeding on the point of misrepresentation of the signs “LUV INJECTION” or the logo form of the same, as it was finally decided in the invalidation case that use of LOVE INJECTION SOUND would be such a misrepresentation.

 

LOOKING FORWARD

The case will proceed to a hearing to determine the scope of any court order against Winston forcing him not to use the names LOVE INJECTION and LUV INJECTION and the question of what costs Winston and his company should pay now, together with giving directions as to any further remedies (such as damages). The Court has found that the remaining parts of the case – whether Winston should be forced to hand over all the “dubplates” which mention the old members and whether there should be a distribution of the physical sound system (speaker box, amps, wire)– should continue… We will keep you updated

 

What do you think?

Written by The Editor

warrior dedicated to the cause of fighting the takeover of our culture.

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