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The Wyrd Sisters vs Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Canadian folk group, The Wyrd Sisters, are seeking a court injunction to stop to the distribution of the upcoming film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Canada.

According to Kimberly Townley-Smith, the band’ s lawyer, a scene in the movie includes a band of wizards called “The Wyrd Sisters,” who play at the Hogwarts Yule Ball. Originally, JK Rowling dubbed the band the “The Weird Sisters,” but Warner Bros decided to change the spelling to “Wyrd” for the movie.

The band claims that their name, a brand they have been building for the last 15 years, is being threatened by WB, which puts them in the position of either having to start over again with a new title, or having to struggle for recognition in the overwhelming shadow cast by the Harry Potter phenomena.

“[Harry Potter] is so much more huge than us in their reach, that we’ll go out on tour a month after the movie comes out — and we’ll go all over to Australia, to New Zealand — and people will wonder who are these strange people stealing the Harry Potter name?” – Kim Baryluk – The Wyrd Sisters

In their defense, Warner Bros. has made a statement that the band in the movie aren’t named, and that they have no intention to use The Wyrd Sisters moniker. However, according to Townley-Smith, Warner Bros had already referred to the band as The Wyrd Sisters, and damage has already been done.

If you go on the ‘net now and put in Harry Potter and Wyrd Sisters you get 6,000 hits or something crazy like that. People know already and that’s because up until recently Warner had them credited and the official word was that the name of the band was The Wyrd Sisters. They’ve already created an association between the name and the band and that’s all you need. – Townley-Smith

TWS have also issued a statement of claim seeking $40-million plus punitive damages against Warner Brothers Entertainment Canada, Warner Brothers Records, as well as British band Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and Radiohead’s Phil Selway and Johnny Greenwood, who portray the Harry Potter Wyrd Sisters band members.

[Johnny and Phil] were asked to be in the film to be The Wyrd Sisters, which is what J.K. Rowling called the band and then there’s this [Canadian] band called The Wyrd Sisters, so now they can’t be called The Wyrd Sisters,” says a member of Radiohead’s management, who didn’t want to be named. “The [Canadian] Wyrd Sisters are just trying to sue them for namesake. The whole story is just a couple of people in a band trying to get some money.’- Chart Attack

As would be expected, the original “Wyrd Sisters” are being portrayed as unreasonable, gold digging, unknowns by Potter, Radiohead, and Pulp fans amongst others, but are their portrayals justified? Not according to the band, who’ve posted a statement on their website quoting a Warner Bros. lawyer who had approached them about the use of their moniker…

Things are…errr… interesting around here. Okay, maybe interesting is not the right word. Terrifying would be closer. It all started with a phone call recently from a Warner bros lawyer. The fellow said: “We’re making a big movie and putting together a band of famous musicians together called the Wyrd Sisters. We’re going to make a big splash, sound tracks, the whole shebang! So… you don’t want our army of lawyers shutting down your girls’ band… sign this piece of paper and we’ll give you $5000.

Here’s the way it is. We said no. It is our name. We own it. We’re not about to be threatened into giving up our name. And Warner Bros has no business making a movie with a band with our name in it without at least some simple courtesy. All kinds of untrue things are circulating about our situation, but I am unfortunately unable to publicly discuss anything at this point. Suffice it to say that we didn’t go looking for Warner…they came looking for us. – The Wyrd Sisters

WB later offered $50,000 to the band to “share” its name, but that too was refused, and in my mind, the band’s decision was justified. Is $50,000 a reasonable price tag to place on a brand you’ve invested 15 years of your life towards building, not to mention the financial investment? Let’s see…$50,000 divided between three members, divided by 15 years, comes to a grand total of $1,100.00 per year each. With four albums, and two Juno nominations (which happen to bear their name) to their credit, I’d say they’re worth a bit more than what a WB exec. probably spends on an average business dinner.

My advice to The Wyrd Sisters…..Change your name to ‘The Harry Potter Trio.’ I’m sure they wouldn’t mind “sharing”…. AOL-Time Warner threatens children running Harry Potter fan sites

Oh, and the band happens to be pretty darn good. Check them out.

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About Annie

  • Dawn

    Doesn’t Warner Bros. have an obligation to check for any conflicts before deciding to use a name that might already be taken?

    That said, they should be happy to have the exposure, however it comes.

  • J. Gibson

    Thanks, Annie – can’t say I’ve seen too many positive reactions to this whole thing…suffice to say I agree with you!

    We’ll see what happens…


  • What a trip… I can’t imagine why WB would even change the name in the first place!

  • Maines

    The band is hardly justified; Shakespeare invented that name centuries ago. They do not own it.

  • X

    Wonder what would happen if Terry Pratchett caught wind of any of this…

  • Actually, Shakespeare’s witches we called “The Weird Sisters”, not “Wyrd”. It’s all in the spelling. 🙂

    Dawn, I’m sure that WB DO, do copyright searches as standard practice. The issue seems to be how they deal with the conflicts once they find them.

    I wonder if their threats, and 5000.00 pay offs usually do the trick? Probably.

    Not that it matters, but I’d like to know when they started using the name, before, or after the band said “no”. Either way, it seems to be a clear cut case of infringement…At least until the high priced WB lawyers get involved.

    Good point X. The spelling is the same, but being that they’re books, it’s not a direct conflict.

    Thanks, J, and you’re welcome. Unfortunately for TWS they have their hands tied as far as telling their side of the story. Are you affiliated with the band?

  • Diego

    -They’re suing for $40 million plus damages. This means that their name is worth $40 million, and that their business will be damaged beyond the use of their name. Both of these ideas are blatant falsehoods. The only reason for this ridiculous monetary demand is greed.

    -They are trying to block the film from being circulated in Canada. This is an assault on free speech, and free speech is one of those ideals that applies just as much to big evil media conglomerates as to anybody. Suppressing free speech is the act of a tyrant, and since they claim to be defending free speech, it doesn’t take a genius to spot the hypocrisy here.

    -They are NOT just suing the big evil conglomerate. If they were just going after AOL Time Warner, I would be a lot more sympathetic. They are suing Jonny, Phil, and Jarvis as individuals, forcing them to defend themselves in court and putting a stop to their artistic and charitable work. This is EXACTLY what the Wyrds are accusing JP&J of doing to them; this makes their hypocrisy even clearer.

    -The only conceivable benefit to the Wyrds from suing the individual artists is to increase their publicity. This makes them media whores. I do not use the word in a mean-spirited sense; there is no better term for people who will abandon their own professed principles to have people pay attention to them.

    -All the Wyrd Sisters’ recording and touring activity has been suspended, causing at least one member to leave the band. This proves that the woman in charge cares more about the lawsuit than the creation of music and the integrity of her group.

  • Catherine

    In reply to X, I have to say that when people say ‘Wyrd Sisters’, I hear ‘Terry Pratchett’. Always have done, always will.

  • Sigma9

    The problem for the Wyrd sisters is that if they play a gig now, most people will think they are ripping off the name from Harry Potter. They might not be the band people are expecting to see.

    The name (with either spelling) predates Shakespeare by at least a few centuries. I’m guessing that all uses of the name (including Terry Pratchett) go back at least this far… This from cbcunlocked.com:

    The band took its name from three Norse sister-goddesses of fate who are called either The Norns or The Wyrd Sisters. The Wyrd Sisters were first recorded in Canada by the CBC in 1990. A member of their group is a CBC employee.

    References to the “weird sisters” originally come from the name of an ancient pre-Christian goddess. The Holy Trinity later replaced this diety.

    William Shakespeare referenced the triple goddess in Macbeth, in which three witches recite the incantation “Double double, toil and trouble.” That phrase provided lyrics for a song used in the third Harry Potter film.

    In 1996, there was also a TV movie based on a Terry Pratchett novel called, The Wyrd Sisters. J.K. Rowling’s Goblet of Fire was published in 2000.

  • These ladies are from my home town and are fairly well known in the Canadian folk music community. I think they are in a win-win situation. They can justify the court injunction since WB did offer them some money, which they deemed to be not enough. And when they lose, they would have earned millions of dollars worth of free publicity and maybe would have sold hundreds more albums than otherwise.

    I don’t really agree with them, but I do believe they have not much to lose. And lots to gain.

  • Stash

    Man, talk about your desperate move to try and get free publicity. Wyrd Sisters on the move to the US scene riding the backs of Warner Bros. soon to be released film, “Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire”. Be weary fans as there is a “Wyrd” attempt by the sisters of Canada. Now that we all know who the “Wyrd Sisters” are we can move on and ignore them even more as they disappoint more than their share of folk music fans in the US, well, if they had any at all. Some one get the stage hook and pull them away from the center stage, if you got your tomatos toss’em hard.
    Might I add if the movie is banned in Canada only, I am sure the US welcomes the flow of money from all those Harry Potter fans up there :D.
    Its too bad they had to go this route 🙁 I mean Canadians are awsome….

  • Kendra

    well personally, I think it is kind of odd that WB would change the spelling of the name, however, there was a made for t.v movie released in 1996 called “the wyrd sisters” did this so called band sue them? no they didn’t. so if they didn’t think it was such a big deal to “own” their name then why do they now? could it be because Warner Brothers and Harry Potter have more money?? hhhmmm, points to ponder….Also I am now going to sue anyone that has my name, because I think I should own it.

  • Starlit

    Blocking the release will not change what has already been done. Blocking the release will not add to the confusion, as the band is NOT named in the movie. Blocking the release will simply infuriate Harry Potter fans that have been waiting patiently, hoping to see the masterpiece they’ve come to love put on to the screen. Result? Lots of free publicity when little children try and figure out why Harry Potter isn’t available. The Harry Potter series is not about the Wierd Sisters, it is about Harry Potter. The Wierd Sisters were simply an afterthought, sprinkles to go on a cake. Heck, as a Terry Pratchet fan, I smile every time I see the phrase ‘Wyrd Sisters’. I also don’t see Mr. Pratchet getting any flack from these ladies from Manitoba.

    I’m Canadian, and I’ve never heard to this band in my life. Even if I found them, afterwards, I wouldn’t automatically assume they were affiliated with Harry Potter- a name’s only a name after all.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when everyone is squabbling over a few syllables- and there are demands for 40 million for ownership.

  • The strangest thing, as Starlit has mentioned, is that the band name is not mentioned in the film. The ladies are after free publicity and no doubt, their management has led them to believe that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They do lose some credibility, however, because they won’t be able to block the film.

  • Carly

    Maybe the “Wyrd Sisters” should try to sue Shakespeare too, because he references ‘weird sisters’ there too.

    Or maybe they should google their name and see how many other things come up with the same name as them..

    Because this is all this is right? Protection of their bands name? Definitly not a grab for cash.
    No, never.

  • Matt

    Even if Warner Bros did use this name, every movie or work of fiction has that disclaimer about any references or similarities to anyone in real life is purely coincidental and not the intention of the company, I say this band should just suck it up and realize that there are ALWAYS going to be duplicates, you dont see me suing the producers of the Freddy Krueger movies, since my last name is Krueger and I’ve had to go through a life of harrasment for it, why should this band be treated any different? Because they think they are famous? No way, suck it up and take a pill.

  • JM

    Carly hello! Shakespeare existed centuries ago before the “Wyrd Sisters” band formed. Anyways I think they’re just trying to make a name for themselves by accusing Harry Pothead stealing their precious band title.

  • I was a member of the Wyrd Sisters till mid-August this year.
    I was not told of this impending law suit.
    I am absolutely disgusted by what the remaining members are doing.
    Since they have no ‘current’ pictures on their website (an odd exclusion at a time of seeking this scale of media hype), an ET Canada program flashed a picture from the archives, including myself and Nancy Reinhold, who left the band in 2003.
    Kim’s claims that this has caused them so much grief ($40 mil worth), that they had to cancel tours because of it, and postpone the release is so much bullshit. I would think that they’d at least need to find a replacement for me in the meantime. Unless they’re just a duo now.
    I feel I have been misrepresented, but I’m not about to sue anybody for big bucks. I’m not that type of person.

  • Steph

    My name is Steph, I am Kim’s niece, i just wanted to respond to Kiva first off..according to what i hear first hand you left the band on your own volition, seeking fame and fortune. So, don’t whine!!(BTW, you have been replaced) Secondly, People are cattle… most everybody has bought into the “Harry Potter” franchise and all will see this movie. If the Wyrd Sisters come to town, chances are 85% of people will be delusioned and really not expect to hear some good ‘ol homegrown folk music, no…. they will want Pulp and radiohead..or, like, some wizards or something…point being, my aunt has spent alot of time, effort and money establishing herself. This could ruin all that because a multi million dollar company needs to have it all! Way to pick on the little guy!

  • Colleen

    Hey Steph, only people in the band know what really happened, no matter what the ‘family’ story is. So maybe you should mind your own business and let your aunt stick up for herself. I mean it’s not like she’s working right now is she? And I seriously doubt that anyone has (in my home country of Canada) put in $40 million dollars of their own time and money into their job. Especially not Folk singers. I have never heard of them, and they’ve only been NOMINATED twice in 15 years. They never won. Bit harsh, but all facts.

    Oh and before I forget, Diego (#7) couldn’t have put it better.

  • Steph

    Dear, sweet, colleen…. This has been made the business of all harry potter fans and all wyrd sister fans, im simply trying to make the facts known… and Kimberly has stood her ground a thousand times over. Honestly, i think 40 million dollars is an ubsurd amount of money…
    btw she IS in fact working, and touring…and just because you havnt ever heard of them doesnt mean anything, oh and BTW..how many junos have you been nominated for????

  • Colleen

    Oh but because I haven’t heard of them DOES mean so much. If you’re famous and from Canada, Canadians generally know who you are.
    Besides arguments that EVERYONE knew that WB used the name Wyrd Sisters for the movie band is just not true. everyone knows about it because of this attempt to sue. If they wanted people to know, they made sure of it by their actions (legal and otherwise).

    “oh and BTW…” considering I’m not in the music business, it would be pretty silly if I won any Junos wouldn’t it?

    And before I forget ‘Moo’. Please give people a little more credit, very few people are going to buy a ticket to a band they think is from the Harry Potter movie. They will see posters of your aunt and her group mates and realize that they are not the same thing. Do the posters not say Folk music?

  • steph

    alright Ms. colleen….
    first of all, posters do not generally state the genre of music right on it…”come and see eminem, oh ya hes a rapper…” no wait…” tonight, Metallica, they play metal..”, so thats just silly..secondly, i assumed that you were NOT in the music biz…if you cant tell sarcasm by now….next, there are TONS of underground, indy, folk, whatever…canadian bands that i KNOW you have not heard of, and again..just because YOU of all people havnt heard of them means squat, theres what 33 million people in canada? and last but not least..MOO!!(may i now remind you of oh, Y2K,..buy this!, buy that! this is “in”, this is “out” bla bla bla)…so your honestly trying to tell me that people are not cattle? anyway, it seems that we’ve strayed off topic, and are more interested in pointing fingers, I don’t even talk to my aunt, so im trying to stay fairly unbias. So i’ll leave you with this…May the best (wo)man win.

  • Once long ago I helped run a theatre company. We named it and proceeded happily for a couple of years until we got some publicity. Shortly after we received a letter from lawyers representing another theatre company telling us to cease and desist using our name becuase it was only one word different from their name.

    We had of course done a name search prior to our forming a business and had not come up with any conflict, but it didn’t seem to matter in the eyes of lawyers or the law. The contention is confusion in the eyes of the public.

    Now in the upcoming movie the name of the band is never mentioned…how then was the public’s attention brought to this possible conflict with an existing band? Will the movie cause the conflict or will the publicity surrounding the case cause the confusion in the minds of the fans.

    Why did they not go after Ms. Rowling in the first place. When I read the book, I said hey that’s neat there is a band in Canada with the same name. I didn’t realise they spelt it differntly. But according to the law that should be irrelevant because it’s the confusion generated that matters.

    Choosing to go after only Warner Bros. and not Ms. Rowling in the first places makes their case and point very weak…of course who wants to go after a children’s author, wait until the movie comes out when you can get much more money.

    Sorry I join the forces who see this as a cynical ploy for money and publicity by a band with not much of a public following, even in Canada. Winning a Juno award really has no bareing on your popularity in this country.

    If Warner Bros. lawyers are any good this shouldn’t get past the prelim. stage before the judge throws it out of court and the womyn end up with a bill for court costs.

  • Colleen

    Dear Steph, when I said ‘say Folk music’ I didn’t mean the words literally, what I meant is anyone who saw their posters or CD covers would be pretty stupid to think they were a punk rock band.

    I can tell when sarcasm is used, and I know you were not serious about winning Juno’s. Neither was I, I too was being sarcastic. And was there a hint of a threat in your statment? It could be taken that way you know, with your use of the ellipsis.

    Again, maybe I should explain myself clearly, because other people do not seem to be able to follow a thought beyond the written words (this is not directed personally at Steph, I assume though since you did not know what I meant, others must not have as well). When I say I have never heard of them, and this matters, it is because they are not so popular that nearly everyone (in Canada) knows of them, or is proud that they are/were Canadian. Think Bret Hart, Bryan Adams, Terry Fox. As I said before, I (and many other people) have only heard of the band because of this lawsuit. And I’m not a Harry Potter fanatic. I’ve read the books, but I’ve read better, and seen the movies, but seen better.

    Even if they didn’t do it for the publicity, they would have to be pretty thick to not know they would get a lot of it. And I doubt that they are, you can not make it in many businesses (maybe especially the music business), if you are that dense. I do apprieciate that your aunt and the band have worked hard, and although I have not listened to any of their songs, I’m sure they must be able to sing, as they have lasted 15 years, maybe different members, doesn’t really matter.
    But I do wonder if they are aware that few people are going to say, ‘hey, that’s the band that tried to delay the Harry Potter movie, let’s listen to their music.’ They will get very little good attention, and have gotten a lot of bad already.

    The Y2K thing, people were scared that they might lose everything they worked for. Sounds like your aunt maybe? Yes people do buy the same things generally, and like the same things genaerally, but you can’t say that we’re cattle. We generally all like the same things, because we are generally brought up the same way (which affects our tastes). Generally we watched cartoons when we were young, and generally we have fond memories of them. Generally we like to be in style, have modern conviences, etc. Movies/books/music/whatever are popular because people like (for example) the movie , and they become more popular because people think, ‘hey this movie is popular, I’ll go see what all the fuss is about.’
    Yes people respond to ads and want what is shown, but this isn’t because people are told HOW to respond, it’s because ad companies know what people resond TO.

    Now you’re certainly right, most of that is off topic. But if you mind explaining that last comment (sentence), I’m not quite sure of what you were trying to say. To clarify, I am being serious here, and I’m not saying that you can’t explain what you mean, or that your an idiot and don’t know how to talk. What I am saying is that I can take what you have said in a few different ways, and I’m not sure which you meant.

  • Aaron

    For your Info, you do not own the name ‘The Wyrd Sisters’. The name ‘The Wyrd Sisters’ has been around long before your grandparents even thought of having a child.

  • steph

    hi colleen,
    i really only meant (by the best (wo)man thing)
    between WB and the sisters..i wasnt trying to be…er…threatening:P or anything, so sorry…i mean in actuality, they kinda do own the name, they had it copy written like, what? 15 years ago…as silly as it seems now and as big of controversy that it is, it will blow over and everyone will forget about it, and that will be that,really, no matter what i say isn’t going to sway any body elses opinion or change anything (not that i really expect to anyhow). so, givin that, …may the best (wo)man win 😉

  • Stella

    Let’s see…I’m holding both hands in the air like a scale. Hmmm…. One hand holds the fact that the Wyrd Sisters, not exactly a household name, are upset that their name is mentioned in probably the most popular book in the world (and not the movie, bt the way, from what I understand). The other hand is holding up the fact that millions of Canadians would miss the new Harry Potter movie out November 18. Hmmm.. how many people would be P.O.’d due to the Wyrd Sisters’ so called “dilemma” and how many people would be P.O.’d due to a very much anticipated movie being banned because of three gals who want to be famous? I know 3 people who would be pretty P.O.’d due to the latter and something tells me I may not be alone…

  • Kim

    Well, now I see what everyone is getting their tails in a knot about… ( Hi Stephie! How’s my favourite niece?) and thanks for trying to stick up for me honey…
    First of all… Kiva[edited]

    2nd: We were not suing warner’s for 40 mil – In an injunction, we had to put what we thought the movie would make in Canada as damages. It’s a legal thing. We underestimated. Warner said they’d make approx 66 mil.
    3rd: In an injunction, you are NOT awarded cash, so even if we had won the injunction, we would not have rec’d any cash whatsoever.
    4th: Our name is our registered biz name. We own the name the same way WB owns theirs. We cannot call the band The Warner Bros. They’d sue us.
    5th: Warner named the band TWS and did extensive advertising about it, long before they ever contacted us. By the time they contacted us it was too late to do anything about it, except for the injunction. There were extensive interviews by the movie’s producer and the musicians themselves, and 1000s of articles and chats about the potter WS. Just because they took the actual spoken words of the name out of the movie doesn’t matter. It was too late. They knew they were breaking trademark laws and they just didn’t care. You don’t need to care when you’re that all-powerful. Oh yeah, and they have Wyrd sister named toys and products everywhere, and the band themselves have released their ‘wyrd sisters’ songs on the internet already ( yes, calling them wyrd sisters songs). Entertainment is WB’s business, they knew what they were doing.
    6) The reason we took WB to court is because they refused to acknowledge us or our rights. We made multitudes of reasonable, inexpensive suggestions to them about how their band could exist without causing us any harm. They couldn’t be bothered to take us seriously. We felt that we had to follow our own advice, which is, to stand up to injustice no matter how hard or scary it is.
    7) Not that it matters, but the wyrd sisters is one of the names of an ancient pre-christian goddess. Shakespeare used it, he did not make it up. A fictional character in a band does not interfere with a real band business. That’s why we don’t care about rowlins childrens’ book. Or any one elses. That’s why terry pratchett does not sue us. Our businesses are different. He writes books, we make music, and there are other wyrd sisters that do different kind of business. That’s how trademark law works. or is supposed to, anyway.
    8) We have other options now that the injunction is over, but let me tell you how it works in the real world. When you have more lawyers than Satan has sinners, and more gold than is paved in the streets of heaven, you can simply sit back , do what you want , and let the poorer opponent wear themselves out with legal fees. There’s justice for the rich, and justice for the poor, and those are two entirely different scenarios.
    So I don’t know what we’ll do next. I’m very tired. Hate mail and death threats and the past crawling out of the woodwork to haunt me gets very tiring. Getting power-raped, globally is exhausting. It would have helped maybe if I was allowed to talk about what was really going on, but until this point I was under orders to keep silent. Warner was going for the press, not me. I thought I was replying to a private email and it got posted somewhere, and thats where most of the quotes attributed to me came from.
    Also, btw, warner never offered us 50,000. The money wouldn’t have mattered. Nor do I consider hate mail and flaming good press. This whole exersize was to try to fool ourselves into believing that the mouse can survive when the elephant turns over.
    Peace people, and please remember that there are real important issues in the world requiring your best passions, and this issue is not really one of them.

  • It was thrown out of court yesterday, so everybody can stop slaging each other now and go home

  • Dave Nalle

    Shouldn’t the name be in public domain since it originates in Scandinavian mythology and is then repeated in Shakespeare’s MacBeth?


  • DarkSorceress

    I did a little web search on the band and I found out that a movie was released in 1996 entitled “the Wyrd Sisters” in UK. How come they didnt do anything about that? I personally think that the band just wants money and more attention and that they will be known in other places besides their own…

  • Colleen

    I know what I have written before, and I still stand my ground on some things, but I do appreciate the fact that Kim has posted here and explained, or at least tried to explain, what happened.
    It seems she cares at least what people are saying about her, the band, and their image. This kind of seems like someone who is not suing for the money, because if you were would you really care what people thought of you?

    I figured they would probably get death threats, but it still surprises me. Who would do that? It’s just very silly. The worst that I would think to do, was egg their house or somthing. But I wouldn’t do even that because it’s just not worth it.

  • J

    The WB shouldn’t have changed that spelling just because I’m a huge fan of the books as well as the movies, but they should really consisder not changing it now because of the band. I don’t think this can get all of Canada to not show the movie though. Harry Potter is so popular and loved, movies theater’s would lose a lot of business (you’d be suprised at how much). I am a huge loyal fan of Harry Potter but I do think that you should fight this if you want.

  • Diego

    I still think suing Jonny, Phil, and Jarvis was unreasonable. Could anyone explain why they did this?

  • It must be a huge relief for Kim to finally tell her side of the story…just think..all of that time to sit and think about how she can twist it in her favour…the little guy? Power raped? Sorry sweetheart. It seems like you were busted.. and now, you’re clawing your way out of this hole…you know what Kim?..you need to start giving people more credit.
    1) you say you spent 1 million dollars on the band over the years…if money doesn’t matter to you, then why make a claim like that?
    2) the comment on heavens golden streets and the sinners in hell sounds a lot like a song you’d come up with…do you think people read/hear that statement and suddendly smack their foreheads and say “oh..that makes scence!”?
    Kim, just think…the band could’ve ended with all the respect thet You, Kiva, Nancy, Lianne etc created. All that hard work…as a former fan, I feel embarassed. I gave you a chance when Nancy left. I enjoyed Jane…then Jane left…then Kiva is gone…what now? Now a lawsuit? I hope you can respond to this because like you, I was disturbed by all the hate mail…then I was disturbed when my nephew almost cried because the Harry Potter movie might not make it to Canadian theaters. I truly hope, for the sake of your mental health, that you retire the Wyrd Sister name..for good…not for any other reason….

  • S’jam

    We have seen just how ruthless Warner Brothers can be about their ownership of brand names. THe fact that they offered a sum of money shows that they recognised there was an ownership issue.
    However the fact that the offer was refused doesn’t seem to have got in to their thick skulls. They probably expect people to give in.

  • Inframan

    OH a-waaaaaaaa !!!!
    Poor, poor down-trodden WB ! How will they ever survive!

    As for greed … I find it hard to beleive if anyone here would pass up a good, or even fair, chance at a 40 million dollars.

  • Karla

    Dear Kim
    It would be great if you put more into the music and spend less time reading all this crap about yourself. It’s as if you are draw to this fight as an excuse to stop playing music.

    It seems as though things haven’t been the same since Nancy left. Pehaps you can’t run this band without her. I check to see where I can see you play and your tours seem spuratic or absent for a year at a time. Do you think she would ever come back? I was a fan back in your day but I’m not sure how you can salvage this mess without her. She really had a beautiful voice and it would be so exciting for us old fans to see her again.
    Take care.

  • Brenda

    I see some people have begun to look past this mess with the whole greed thing…Like Karla asked, is there a chance that Nancy might return? She was such a treat to listen to. I thought she wrote most of the songs to..well, at least the ones I liked anyway..I too look to see where you are playing. Do you have a replacement for Nancy? Do you sing Nancy’s songs? I hope the rumors are true, Nancy will save the band. Thanks.
    Brenda (Toronto)

  • Did anyone see the correction picked up in the Calgary Herald which said that “The Canadian Press reported Friday that the Harry Potter franchise changed the spelling of Weird Sisters to Wyrd for some of its merchandise. In fact, Warner Bros. has not used Wyrd in any context.” I worry about what is on the internet because a good portion of the time, it’s just wrong. And then perpetuated.

  • K

    I am a huge fan of HP and if the Wyrd Sisters won the lawsuit and were able to ban the movie playing across Canada, who would listen to them after that anyway? The few people who do know them would either stop listening to them continue listening to them. how does this affect the people who didnt know them at all before this happened. if anything, people will check them out to see if they are any good. it gives them more publicity. now, ppl will just recognise them as the group who tried to stop Harry Potter. I know that they are a Winnipeg Folk Group and as a winnipeger, I have never ever heard of them before this lawsuit. seriously, what were they thinking when they say that they didnt go through this for the money?? so they were nominated for the Junos. does anyone here even watch the Junos? the Junos played in WPG this year, I didnt hear them being nominated. and besides, Jk Rowling published this book in 2000. If they had ever read the books, they should have known that a movie would be following and that they should expect this. had they not read the books, and WB claim that they never use the name in the movie, how could they know that the name was being used at all without reading the books first?? If WB never mentions the name, only HP fans would know who the band members are in the movie. and all the people who dont read the books, need never know anyway. I doubt that a large percentage of all those fans watch the movie without reading the book first. and if they did, they know who the actors are trying to portray. Besides, how many people out of the majority of people going to watch the movie have ever heard of the Canadian Wyrd Sisters? now, I feel for the band. Im not all criticism and I can see how they must feel. If they want a right to their name they should have it but really, against HP??

  • I am married to a member of the American musical group “Three Weird Sisters” and I am also their lawyer. We received the same contact from Warner Brothers regarding the Goblet of Fire movie, and were happily in negotiations with them when The Wyrd Sisters filed their suit. WB then pulled the plug on negotiations with us, and advised that no reference to Weird Sisters OR Wyrd Sisters would appear in the movie. Three Weird Sisters has had a federally issued trademark for several years. We saw no conflict with WB. After all, as one poster has pointed out, Shakespeare first referred to the Weird Sisters, and in fact that is the primary influence for the American Three Weird Sisters’ name. To make matters worse, Three Weird Sisters have started receiving testy emails from people accusing the band of being “old, mean ladies ruining the fun for everyone.” I am not kidding. Please do not confuse us with the Canadian band. For information (and an explanation of the band’s position on this issue), please go to http://www.threeweirdsisters.com

  • Bee

    This is from the Wyrd Sisters Website …”when the Movie is released, an avalanche of confusion will result causing extensive damage”

    My God Kim, your delusions of grandeur and self importance are bigger then I ever thought!!!

    You must think your fans are verging on retarded if they will get you confused with Radiohead and Harry Potter. Do you really believe your fans are that stupid. Maybe they are …..

    (By the way you didn’t have to translate in to “common speak” it was perfectly understandable to everyone, not just yourself)

    “Justice is equal to the size of your wallet. Someone should start telling the children this now so they will be prepared later. How does anyone expect to recover from so huge a revelation?”
    Where do you come up with this crap, you should get out once and a while and socialize with normal people because you are floating in some space where you seem to be the center of the universe.

    Take for instance the release of the song that you speak about on your website…perhaps…just perhaps…the release date had NOTHING to do with you!!!!!!! but more to do with the release of the movie…

    Say to your self “I, Kim am not the center of the universe” try that 150 times a day.

    Get over this…it’s pathetic, you are going to lose fans with crap like that on your website. No one wants to be dragged into your politics…

  • Kiddo

    ^*giggles* Pretty nasty, but she makes some good points.

  • Concerned

    Wow – I’m shocked and appalled at how mean spirited people are and how they get all up in arms over stuff they don’t understand. Hey, do you understand trademark law? Do you own a business? Then maybe you will understand a little bit more of the situation. Also, listening to the lovely spin of the media – when you are dealing with a David and Goliath situation — really, one has to have some skepticism in this day and age.

    So, to start. You start a business, you go to the trouble of naming it. You spend a lot of money to get your business started, you trademark the name for quite a lot of money, and this takes some time too. You go through this whole process, following the law and paying your taxes. You invest money, you loan money, you build your name in the community. It takes years of name recognition to build it up. That means time, effort and money. You trust that because you followed all the rules, you’ve got some security.

    Then someone comes along and starts using your name, they have the EXACT same business as you do. They have more money and power than you and can in months, do what you have taken 15 years of your life to even get close to. And they just go ahead and start doing it, without your consent.

    By trademark law, one has the OBLIGATION to protect one’s own trademark by letting the other party know that you are the trademark owner. If the other party does not comply/cease and desist, you must let them know legal action will be taken. This is supposed to deter people from stealing other people’s trademarks – the point being the confusion to the public. THIS APPLIES TO ALL TRADEMARKED BUSINESSES — you can’t just say it isn’t a big deal because one business is a small band. If you let that slide, then it shouldn’t count for other bigger businesses either – might as well throw the law in the toilet. So if the other party does not cease and desist – what are you supposed to do? The next step is to take legal action.

    When you take legal action, there are all sorts of legal steps that may seem odd, or be misinterpreted by those who aren’t actually going through the system. For example, having to name damages, even though that might not be what you are after at all.

    So legal action costs money — and that’s the rub. Basically it means that anyone with the power and cash can come along and take your business from under you. This thing with the little band is just part of a scary precedent — my parents had their own family business that we worked for years to build and make pay for itself. If some big company came along and took the name – well, that would have ruined us. Especially if they did not have the same ethics as we did in running our business, for example. AND — DO NOT FORGET – when you sell your business, the NAME of the business carries value. So your business would be worthless if that happened, who would want such a mess?

    SO, that being said — this whole thing with this little band being steamrolled and mudslogged in the press is just an example of what a powerful company can do – a company that has obviously lost their humanity.

    One band, the Wyrd Sisters – just wanted to work things out – were NOT asking for money or willing to take a red cent. They knew they were in a hard position and were willing to ask for something that would cost WB nothing – just a credit for being the original Wyrd Sisters BAND.

    The greedy band here, you might say is the Three Weird Sisters – who are upset that they lost the money they were going to get from WB. And don’t seem to give a damn about their own name or the fact that another band does care. I find that completely revolting and disgusting — sell outs, really.

    So here’s this band trying to stand up for itself and to do that they’ve had to go through so much crap that it hardly seems worth it. I mean, would you want to give up your time, effort and money to have people hate you? THINK about it. If they wanted good press, they could have really banked on being ‘cooperative’, they could have publicized their side of the story with a lovely spin — but instead, they chose to be honest — and are screwed by this powerful company who can get their press out first and fast and spin whatever they want, do whatever they want.

    To note, this is NOT a completely small band — the Wyrd Sisters have been around in Canada for a while and have a large following, have been seen on many TV shows and have been nominated for Juno Awards – granted, they’re not Shania Twain famous — but for the average indie band, it takes years and years to do it yourself — and it’s HARD WORK. This band just LOST 15 years of whatever name they’ve built up through this bad press and the marketing of music listed as them, all over the place. Do you think for a minute that makes any sense????? So MAYBE, you could give them the benefit of the doubt for a minute and THINK about it, instead of jumping to conclusions.

    As for naming the members of the HP band in the suit, of COURSE they had to do that — those are the people in the other band, for goodness sake. It doesn’t mean that they are against those artists, it’s just what happens when you sue — they put all the parties names in the paper so they get called into court – and they would HAVE to put their names in because they are the ‘fake’ band. The fake band who is not the Wyrd Sisters Band that is trademarked.

    SO — instead of everyone jumping on board to kill the little guy – why not say – hmmm… maybe they have a legal point. Maybe they are protecting all the rest of us small business owners by FOLLOWING THE LAW. Otherwise, we might as well all give up and let anyone who has the power and money, just take our business names that we’ve worked, toiled and sweated over to make into something that stands for something. ANY entrepreneur worth their weight will GET this. You pour your soul into your business to get it somewhere. I think the Canadian Wyrd Sisters have really shown effort to get to where they have gotten in the Canadian music industry. And it not only sucks for them, but for all of the people and organizations that have supported them – to see this happen. All that money and effort too, have been thrown out the window like ashes because of WB’s actions. TAX PAYERS MONEY goes into supporting Canadian artists – are we wanting to throw that away whenever some big name power money company wants to steal their name AND BUSINESS? It’s disgusting – and I think that it is very brave of the band to actually respect all the people and organizations and grants that have supported them all these years and stand up for themselves — AND FOLLOW TRADEMARK LAW.

    So there’s my lecture. BE KIND TO EACH OTHER. Really, stop for a minute and think about the PEOPLE behind these things – I just KNOW it hurts to think you’ll lose your 2 1/2 hours of entertainment – we need that SO much — and we can just lash out at people who want to stand up for what is right, and what is right for MORE PEOPLE THAN THEMSELVES. But whatever, I guess we can forget that a human being has to go down to the court house and deal with a big powerful company ruining them, making them look bad, breaking them spiritually and emotionally, using up all their money. That a human being has to go through this TORTURE to just have the right to their project that they’ve invested 15 years of their life and love and effort into. That a human being has maybe a family to support and other people who are affected. NO, you are right — they should JUST GIVE UP — because they can’t win. They don’t deserve to win, you are right — of course, because they don’t have the money to protect their trademark — I suppose THAT should be the new law eh? And that it should only count when it doesn’t infringe on the rest of us, so we can see our HP. Even if this company has been releasing marketing and MUSIC that has Wyrd Sisters all over it.

    And to note — Kim from the Wyrd Sisters has said over and over that they didn’t want money and didn’t want to cause a fuss over it — they just wanted the credit of the name mentioned. Instead, that poor woman has had to go through hell.

    Anyway — I don’t personally know the Wyrd Sisters – but I thought I would put a word in and add some facts — as a small business owner myself. And, I have heard of the Wyrd Sisters for years. I actually thought it WAS them in the movie because I didn’t know what they looked like – and then it was some guys or something. I thought it was cool that they were going to use the real Wyrd Sisters in the movie. AND, I thought it was cool to see the reference in the book, although spelled differently.

    So yeah, it DID cause some confusion —

    Anyway, I hope nothing like this EVER happens to you. If you don’t have good legal representation you can get really screwed in the legal system, even if you are the innocent party. It’s not so straightforward as one might think.

    All the best,

  • Small Business owner

    Okay, Okay…I own a small business too…what I read in the papers was that the Canadian Wyrd Sisters were approached by WB and offered some $$…You’d think some bully Corporate Giant wouldn’t even care to make an offer to a band which(let’s face it)very few people know about. Hmmm…let’s just say that the Wyrd Sisters AGREED to take $50,000 big ones and allowed WB to label the fictional band in the HP movie with their name..would that have been really all that bad? Maybe people would’ve looked the Canadian Wyrd Sisters up on Google, downloaded a song or two, had their parents listen to their music(or liked it themselves) and they passed it on to their friends etc…

    I think the sad thing in this whole drama is that a small business truly thought they were bigger than they were, and these poor ladies truly believed that they could stop the HP freight train. Why not jump on board to reach a few more people than disgust them with that creepy greed feeling so many had when they read about the lawsuit?

    This is sad people…I DON’T think that there would be mass confusion over this..sure it’s music, but Radiohead and Pulp are not folkies. I think that it’s sad that the Wyrd Sisters think that the general population is so stupid enough to confuse these two acts.

    Those gals could’ve come out of this on top. Use the movie, which I believe made $100 million in it’s first weekend, to win over some new fans. If those gals were so worried about people showing up to their shows in HP costumes and there being some mass hysteria and confusion, maybe they WEREN’T MEANT TO BE A BUSINESS eh? Like us small business owners would say “there’s an opportunity to make a few new cusomers.” Some people mistakenly walk into my store because A)they’re lost B)they’re not sure or C) they’re lost…7 out of 10 of them leave MY store with MY product in their hands. Sure I don’t have the “numbers” my competition has, but atleast I can say I’ve made new fans!

    I believe that it’s critical for people (small business or not) to think before they react. Some people out there fly off the handle so quickly. It seems like this has happened a few times to the Wyrd Sisters where they were so quick to react and repond to a situation. 1st..not taking the $$ and suing WB..2nd asking people to donate money to their cause on their website. That’s just gross. We all get asked to give $$ to sunami victoms, hurricane victoms…not “oops, we made a bad descision and now we’re paying the price” victoms.

    “Concearned” wrote a lot for allegedly not knowing the Band eh….?

    Sorry Wyrd Sisters, but you need to give people out there more credit..You know, when a child gets caught with there hands in the cookie jar sometimes they blame the cookie jar….


  • Sarah

    Hit the nail on the head on that one!

  • Charles

    Small business owner makes a lot of sense.

    The US Three Wierd Sisters didn’t do anything wrong. Why shouldn’t they get a piece of the american pie aswell? Here’s another example of someone who “doesn’t personally know the Wyrd Sistes” but seems to believe that this version of The Wyrd Sisters is the centre of the universe…
    Sorry lil’ fella…

  • Having read more of the copyright holder’s perspective, I can understand why they took the actions that they did. The media picked up on one side of the story and most people formed their opinions based on that, including me.

    I do wonder, though, where are the promotional materials, CD, and other saleable items that WB is supposed to have created, with the name “The Wyrd Sisters” as a tie-in to the movie. I haven’t heard or seen anything of this nature. Maybe WB decided not to proceed with anything with the WS name? Does anyone know?

  • David

    I like what Small business Owner said. You DO have to think like a small business…the better thing to do would’ve been to accept the offer and let the world decide which Wyrd Sisters faction they wanted to asscotiate with. even if 2% of 50 million people stumbled upon these three girls by accident (1,000,000,000 people) and 10% wanted to purchase a CD (100,000 copies) ….Wow! From what I’ve read (Kim’s begging for money), this woman is REALLY SCREWED UP!!!

  • Johnson

    Wow! There are some really fantastic points made by David and SBO. I never thought about it that way David! All of that money and positive fame that TWS missed. Yeesh! I also read that a former band member had to disasscotiate herself from this mess. It seems like the neice(Stpeh) had taken this personally. I like how Colleen told her to MYOB. It takes gutts for Kiva to make a statement. I think it was fair for her to share her feelings. After all, wasn’t she a member of the band too? I wonder what other former members of TWS have to say. Didn’t they all travel together? Would it be fair to say that they might have more insight as to what goes on in Ms. Baryluks head? My wife and I were fans of TWS. I had the fortunate opportunity to hear Kiva doing overtones in a song. I even baught her CD. It’s too bad that she left the group, although I don’t blame her.
    Are TWS still persuing legal action over this? If anyone has the answer, please let the rest of us know.

  • George Powell

    I find it amusing to hear people who are not lawyers pontificate about what “the law” is on a subject, particularly regarding trademark law (which is an enormously complicated subject).

    Here is this story from the horse’s (i.e. lawyer’s) mouth. FACT: I filed the American trademark application for Three Weird Sisters through a New York law firm in 1999, after paying for an expensive and extensive trademark search. The search revealed no conflicting uses. FACT: The trademark for “Three Weird Sisters” was duly issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. FACT: The Wyrd Sisters knew of TWS and saw no conflict, since the music and audiences of each band did not overlap. FACT: TWS was contacted by Warner Brothers politely SEEKING OUR PERMISSION to use some variation of the name Three Weird Sisters in the Harry Potter movie, and offering a sum of money for this permission. FACT: TWS was flattered at the request, and saw an opportunity to make money FROM THEIR BUSINESS PROPERTY (i.e., their trade name and goodwill), to use the money to finance further recording and touring, and to possibly reach some new fans. FACT: WB pulled out of negotiations when the Wyrd Sisters decided to initiate litigation.

    I have seen the movie, and honestly, the scene with the band barely registered on my consciousness, and I have intimate knowledge of the behind-the-scenes scrap that was going on. How anyone in their right mind could believe that this harmless bit of reference could somehow damage the value of their business is beyond me. The statement by “Concerned” that TWS was “greedy” and didn’t care about its name is almost beneath the dignity of a response. A successful business seeks to trade on the value of its name, and to increase its market penetration. Successful bands seek to expand the universe of people who listen to them, in order to have their music more widely heard.

    Final FACT: When they first started their Quixotic lawsuit quest, the Wyrd Sisters contacted TWS, and basically stated that because the Wyrd Sisters had never bothered to obtain an official registered trademark, the Wyrd Sisters were going to sue TWS to try to “take over” TWS’s American trademark, apparently to give them a springboard for their suit against WB. I have the emails to confirm this.

    Does this sound like a group whose only interest is artistic integrity? To try to screw up another band’s settled legal rights for their own selfish purposes?

    When one of the Wyrd Sister’s own members didn’t know about the lawsuit until after it was a done deal, what does this tell you about the ones pushing the suit, and their loyalty to their band mates?

    Think about how much time, money, and effort have been expended in this fracas, and to what end?

    Was it worth it?

  • Deb

    Loyalty to band members in the Wyrd Sisters….. Haven’t they had four members leave in the past two years (at least 10 over the years). The only person who seems to be fighting this is the founding member, who is probably the one who sent the Three Wyrd Sisters their nasty threatening e-mails. This lawsuit seems to be costing her everything she owns so hopefully we won’t have to hear about them one day soon. In local interviews she is said to have remortgage her house and is now asking for money.

    George makes some good points about her willingness to step over other little bands. Three Wyrd Sisters experience with the Wyrd Sisters doesn’t surprise me in the least. I am glad they spoke up, I wonder if people who have worked with them fear the repercussions and are forced into silence by the actions of the one founding person. ( Just look at what one member had to deal with after speaking up on this blog)

    If you have ever been subjected to one of their shows and felt those ramblings about peace, love and fairy dust were sincere, I’m rethinking that.. It seems there is no real concern for anyone. From recent actions it seems to be all about money.

    I would like to hear from people who have worked with them (present and former), to come forward and say something about their experience. Is there anyone one out there who will say “Yes I am/was in this band and they (she) is a great person to work with”. I wonder…..

  • J

    To recap:
    “…according to Canada.com’s National Post, the Wyrd Sisters not only lost the court battle, but have been ordered to pay $140,000 of Warner Brothers’ legal fees due to the “highly intrusive” lawsuit and criticism of the judiciary involved in the legal battle. ”

    Giggle… 😛

  • Is not Warner Bros. have an obligation to monitor the presence of conflict before deciding to use a name that might already be taken?
    However, they should be grateful for the exposure, but it comes.