It’s undoubtedly important to retain control over your artistic empire. If somebody’s stolen your song and is using it for profit then go after them (although even this gets vague, see: Gaye family vs Williams and Thicke). If someone reproducing your tour merchandise and selling it outside the venue then go after them (although even this gets vague, see: loads of guys selling fake merch outside venues without interruption).
But if you’re Lady Gaga and a London company has used the name "Royal Baby Gaga" for a breast milk ice cream flavour, do you need to go after them? Apparently, yes. Gaga and her team have reportedly sent a cease-and-desist letter to The Licktators asking them to remove the flavour and all mention of it within 14 days.
The company claim that the flavour is an homage to the Royal Baby and nothing to do with the artpop singer, who, for what it’s worth, widely credits Queen – who wrote "Radio Ga Ga" – as the inspiration behind her stagename. Gaga has even joined Queen onstage to perform.
Gaga isn’t the only megastar to go after companies or products that appear fairly harmless. Taylor Swift’s team launched an all out war on Etsy sellers (mostly Swift fans) who were selling merchandise with her lyrics on it. Her lawyers also reportedly went after her former guitar teacher who was using ITaughtTaylorSwift.com. You’d think if anyone was going to be let off, it’d be him.
Notorious electronica pioneers slash lawsuit lovers Kraftwerk recently went after an electronics company that’d designed a mobile phone charger and named it "kraftwerk". Founding member Ralf Hütter wasn’t happy, although he may run into problems – "kraftwerk" literally translates as "power station". Kanye West also successfully won a lawsuit against a cryptocurrency called Coinye set up by a 17-year old student, while Drake threatened Walmart for selling "YOLO" jumpers – a term he thinks was popularised by his song "The Motto".
You think being a popstar is all platinum records, private jets and arena shows, but really it’s just sitting in a room of lawyers relentlessly checking your phone for people to sue.