Intellectual Property Protection helped BTS rise to fame

How BTS’s IP Protection Fueled Their Stardom — And How It Can Help You

Jul 1, 2024

Rarely do bands get as much international hype as the Kpop boy band BTS. Their fans call themselves ARMY, and they’re as passionate and committed to their kpop idols as the name would suggest. BTS launched their first album, 2 Cool 4 Skool, in 2013. Ever since, their global acclaim has only been on the rise with a number of award winning songs in Korean, English, and Japanese. 

But from a legal perspective, we have to wonder if BTS would be where they are without having taken proper precautions to protect their intellectual property. What if someone had stolen one of their songs early on in their career, and that band got famous instead? What if their band name, a shorthand for a Korean phrase meaning “bulletproof boy scouts,” hadn’t been a registered trademark and someone else ran with the same name? Things might be different not just for the band members, but for the music industry at large.

How BTS Protects Their IP

All seven members of BTS —  j-hope, Jin, Jimin, Jungkook, RM, SUGA, and V — have songwriting credits on the songs they release. At least three band members are also full members of the Korean Music Copyright Association (KOMCA). Because of this, any time their songs are used, they get credit and royalties from it. 

But as their popularity has grown, so has their copyright portfolio. They now also own copyrights to the books, comics, music videos, documentaries, and more that have all become a part of their success. They even have a copyrighted fictional universe called the Bangtan Universe, with fictionalized versions of themselves in an urban fantasy setting. Additionally, BTS set a legal precedent in Korea in 2020 when the Korean Supreme court ruled that they owned the rights to publicity images of themselves. 

BTS owns more registered trademarks with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) than any other pop group in the world. They have registered trademarks for their name, their band logo, several identifying features of their merchandise, and even unique expressions that they use in connecting with fans. They also register trademarks whenever they run special events or when they release other creative projects, such as their Bangtan Universe. 

What You Can Learn From BTS

When BTS began, it was all about the music, but they’ve expanded into much more. BTS has their own franchises, creative off-shoots, and even their own sort of culture among their fandom. Just like BTS likely couldn’t predict the vast heights of success they might reach, you never know where your creative endeavors will take you. But you can be prepared. 

Hiring an intellectual property attorney like those of us at Garcia-Zamor allows you to pursue your creative dreams while your work remains protected from the competition. We’ll take care of copyright and trademark registrations, patent applications, drafting nondisclosure agreements for trade secrets, and so much more. If someone infringes on your intellectual property, we’ll also help you take the steps to protect that property.