The above image is a screen shot taken on 3rd November 2016, of a co-existence agreement offered to Lee Simmons (sole trader) by a Limited Company with a similar name.
This unusual experience of branding practices raised questions of artistic identity and ownership.
'A new design company trademarked the name 'Lee Simmons', and subsequently tried to stop me from using it (2016). I was prompted to look at branding issues and questions of artistic identity. My conclusion was to side-step potential problems by choosing a more specific variation of my name for artwork 'L.A.Simmons'; which had nothing to do with the company or their name: Lee James Simmons Ltd. At the time of writing they have surprisingly thwarted my efforts to put that plan (which one could expect them to be delighted by) into action.
Despite finding this annoying, I considered the episode a useful push to think through my practice past and future, as well as how the creative landscape has shifted in recent years. It was a sharp reminder that business models are increasingly included as part of art and design trainings, and though human beings are inherently creative and art making will never 'stop', I am not without concern, as to how the changing landscape of cultural production in the UK will progress.
When the company offered not to oppose 'L.A.Simmons' trademarks if I stop using my usual name online and for trade, as well as pass them my website domain name and email address (used since 2007); I stepped back and drew a line underneath what by this point had become a project in it's own right. Artists, usually, do not need to trademark their names. We own the copyright to our creative output by law of the land, we can officially use our birth names without further registrations, and we have human rights. '
Yi-studio have been wonderful in understanding issues and helping to come up with design solutions, Briffa have provided practical and patient expertise, and Artists Union England's support is also much appreciated. '
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