The German techno pioneers love music... And copyright lawsuits
Kraftwerk and their legal team are going in hard on a German electronics company that has named one of its new mobile phone chargers after the band. eZelleron launched a highly successful Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly £1 million for the product, but it also decided to name it "kraftwerk" – possibly a bad move when you're based in the same country as the King Of Electronic Music / Suing Everyone.
Founding Kraftwerk member Ralf Hütter is pretty peeved about it as he owns a trademark registration on "Kraftwerk". But Hütter may run into issues seeing as the literal translation of the German word "kraftwerk" is "power station", which is literally what this product is.
As well as defining the landscape of electronic music, Kraftwerk also boast a reputation for getting down and dirty with lawsuits. When Afrika Bambaataa and Soul Sonic Force sampled "Trans Europe Express" on "Planet Rock", a disgruntled Kraftwerk brought a lawsuit against its label, eventually settling out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Kraftwerk also waged war on a German rapper called Sabrina Setlur, whose producer Moses Pelham used a two-second percussion sample from the 1977 Kraftwerk song "Metall auf Metall", twenty years after the song had been released. This two-second sample resulted in a lawsuit that lasted for twelve years. Twelve years.
Eventually the court ruled in favour of Kraftwerk, after witnesses banged pieces of metal and fed the sound through a 1996 Akai sampler, proving that if Pelham could have made the sound himself if he wanted to.
In 2008, Kraftwerk hit Liverpool kraut-prog band Kling Klang with a cease and desist order, instructing them to stop using the name. "Klingklang" is the name of the studio that Kraftwerk recorded in that they liked so much they boxed up and took on tour in 1981. It also translates into English as "ding dong".
The threat of legal action forced Kling Klang to change their name to K**** K****, but they disbanded shortly after. Let this be a lesson: if you have a project that you want to the world to see, try and make sure it has absolutely nothing to do with Kraftwerk. The robots are watching and they will come after you.
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