Back in April, OC Weekly spoke to ViceVersa in their Whittier studio. At the time, singer, Zeke Zeldon (whose legal name is Christopher Morales), drummer, Ariel Fredrickson, and bassist Sarah Corza seemed concerned about the future of their band after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Vice Media for a trademark dispute over their name.
The media behemoth, Vice, claimed that ViceVersa’s name was “unauthorized use of Vice Media’s intellectual property,” and is “likely to confuse consumers.” After the David vs. Goliath legal story was published locally and nationally, the band received widespread support from people criticizing Vice for its legal actions. Now, ViceVersa
“Let’s re-wind this tornado.” Morales jokes as he recalls how the conflict all started. Last November, Morales received provisional approval for his application to trademark “ViceVersa” by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A month later a cease-and-desist letter from Vice Media arrived in the mail. Having never faced such a serious legal issue, the band sought help from their lawyer, Harry Finkle, who told Vice Media that the band was willing to narrow the scope of Morales’s trademark application. Morales’ and Finkle received a response in March via a letter of opposition to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board challenging ViceVersa’s trademark application. ViceVersa then decided to share their story to several media outlets such as NBC Los Angeles, Huffington Post, Pitchfork and OC Weekly.
“The only option we have is to try to bring attention to
After their story started making headlines, ViceVersa received support from fans who created memes trolling Vice. KROQ’s own DJ and radio show host, Kat Corbett, even had something to say about the matter on Twitter.
— Kat Corbett (@KatCorbett) April 11, 2016
Then, Vice Media founder and CEO, Shane Smith, blocked ViceVersa on Twitter. “I don’t know why he would block us,” Morales says that he thinks other people tweeting Vice and Smith with critiques over their cease-and-desist letter to ViceVersa may have led to the block. “It’s not like we were trying to be assholes…we were just trying to protect our turf.”
— ViceVersa (@ViceVersa_LA) April 14, 2016
Vice Media’s cease-and-desist letter initially demanded the band relinquish the ViceVersa name by April 18th. According to Morales after three or four days of the band’s story circulating in the press, Vice Media’s lawyer offered a 30-day extension to revisit their conversation about reaching a mutual agreement over ViceVersa’s trademark application. On May 23rd, Vice Media’s lawyer submitted a withdrawal of opposition without prejudice to the United States Trademark and Patent Office, officially ending the legal dispute.
When asked about the legal resolution between ViceVersa and Vice Media, a Vice Media spokesman told OC Weekly, “Without getting into legal jargon, we’re glad we got an agreement that allows ViceVersa to keep their name. Happy this was worked out and we wish the band the best of luck.”
“If we ever do see him (Shane Smith) in person or chill with him, we’ll be like yo,
In celebration of the band keeping their name and moving on with their music, ViceVersa has released a new interactive music video for their song, “Head”, from their latest release, Da EP Vol 2—originally released in 2015, the video’s production was postponed due to their unforeseen legal conflict with Vice Media.
In the video, an unsuspecting fan is taken on an adventure with ViceVersa throughout some of Los Angeles’s coolest spots starting at Amoeba Records then the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Caveman Vintage Music, Placita Olvera, Little Tokyo, California Donuts, Chinatown, Wurstkütche, ViceVersa’s studio in Whittier charmingly named, The Dank, and finally Pellicola Pizzeria. Since the video was shot with a 360-degree camera, make sure to click on the screen and drag the mouse around to experience the full visual effect—cool right? Here’s a link for mobile users.
For an independent band that arguably faced their biggest obstacle ever, ViceVersa stood their ground by continuing to proudly rock gigs with their original name, despite Vice Media insisting they drop it—something other indie bands perhaps wouldn’t dare do if faced with the same dilemma.
Citing a new found confidence, Morales says ViceVersa learned a lot from the
Morales also shares that he wants folks to focus on the collective’s artistry now. “I wanted the Vice issue to transition to our
“I’m glad we prevailed….we’re just now gearing up for our music… for our next record,” says Morales. “That’s really what it’s all about.”
You can catch the band this summer as they tour throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, New Orleans, and Denver. A new E.P is also on standby. To listen to ViceVersa’s music, purchase merch, and check out their upcoming tour dates visit www.viceversa.la