Cavern Club Liverpool v Cavern Club Boston

  • Considering establishing your own live music venue, like the iconic Cavern Club Liverpool, in the hope of uncovering the next big thing in Australian music?
  • Perhaps you’re already running a thriving entertainment venue that attracts the most popular new acts in the local indie music scene.
  • At some point, the thought that these newly formed acts may someday be the next big thing has probably crossed your mind.
  • You think of the pride that would come with being the place that these future stars got their start. Perhaps the thought of the commercial advantages that would come with being the birthing ground for future talent has also crossed your mind.

You want to make sure that the goodwill that comes with your establishment is protected and not exploited by anyone else. A major part of protecting that goodwill involves protecting the name of your establishment. The best way to protect your name is with a registered trademark.

The Cavern Club Liverpool Trademark Dispute

Running live venues can be hectic. The threat of your establishment’s name being exploited by another venue half-a-century down the road is probably the last thing on your mind. However, that is exactly the position the Cavern Club Liverpool finds itself in.

The Cavern Club Liverpool is famous for being the home of none other than The Beatles, who played at the club regularly in their early years before shooting to international stardom in the mid-1960s. The Cavern Club in Liverpool still operates today and is a major attraction for lovers of British music-culture and, of course, the never-ending stream of Beatles fanatics, who tour the club every year. The club attracts almost one million visitors annually, who attend the various Beatles-themed tours that the venue offers.

The reputation that comes with the ‘Cavern Club’ name is, however, under threat of exploitation at the hands of a US-based franchise, the Hard Rock Cafe. The Hard Rock Cafe filed for the ‘Cavern Club’ trademark in 1994 and in 2007 opened its own ‘Cavern Club’ in Boston.

In 2011 the Liverpool based Cavern Club attempted to have the US-based club’s trademark cancelled by the US trademark authority, however this application failed. The Liverpool-based club is now taking the Hard Rock Cafe to court.
The Liverpool Cavern Club claims it had plans to open venues in the US. According to the Liverpool Cavern Club’s lawyer, the Hard Rock Cafe’s conduct in obtaining the ‘Cavern Club’ trademark in the US is a move to prevent the Liverpool Cavern from entering the US market.

Cavern Club Liverpool v Cavern Club Boston

The fact that these two organisations are willing to take the fight for the Cavern Club name to court demonstrates just how valuable a brand name can be. The name’s association with The Beatles has undoubtedly vested it with a degree of good-will that both organisations hope to benefit from financially.

However, it’s not only money on the line. The Liverpool based club is proud of the legacy that comes with being the home of the global phenomenon that is The Beatles.  Dave Jones of the Cavern Club Liverpool has suggested:

  • “If this dispute is not put right, perhaps in some decades time kids might be confused into believing that the four lads who actually changed the world from a cellar bar in Liverpool instead started out at a Hard Rock.
  • “And that would be a travesty of history and a tragedy for music heritage.”

The conundrum faced by the Cavern Club highlights just how important it is for a brand to register its trademark. Those with an interest in ventures of a nature similar to the Cavern Club should learn from its mistakes and ensure they protect their name by applying for the necessary trademarks.

Protecting the name of your brand with a registered trademark may not be on the top of your list of priorities at this stage, however, taking the time to do so now could save you a great deal of trouble down the track.


Quick Off the Mark® is a division of Mark My Words Trademark Services Pty Ltd (MMW). MMW was founded in 2011 and is headed by Jacqui Pryor, a registered trade marks attorney with more than 16 years experience.

In 2015 MMW acquired Quick Off the Mark®, which is a fast and affordable Australian trademark registration service. Quick Off the Mark® offers fixed fees that are affordable to help Australian businesses register their trademarks.

Disclaimer – The advice provided in this blog is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your business objectives, legal situation or needs. Before acting on this advice you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, legal situation and needs.