On having one’s unicorn-killing intellectual property stolen by Samsung, and celebrating the release of yet another Monkey Power Trio record

I received a cryptic message a few days ago from an anonymous source, telling me that I had to immediately retain an attorney and protect my intellectual property from the evil Korean CEO of Samsung. I wrote it off as the ranting of a delusional reader, as it’s not uncommon for me to receive paranoid emails from folks who, for one reason or another, feel compelled to warn me about impending corporate plots. Today, however, I got a second note concerning Samsung, and, this time, as it came from someone whom I know and trust, I took it a little more seriously. “You and Melissa should get a lawyer,” this person said. “Samsung’s new Gallaxy campaign is a total ripoff of your Severed Unicorn Head Superstore.”

So, I took to Google and found the following ad… which does seem to feature a severed unicorn head rather prominently.

While I like the idea of sending Samsung a letter demanding compensation, I don’t know that we’ve got legal grounds. Even if my business partner Melissa and I were the first to suggest that, for the good of all mankind, we need to hunt down all of the unicorns on the planet and liberate their heads, I don’t know that the idea is legally protectable… Are there any intellectual property attorneys in the audience? If so, is it possible to copyright the decapitation of mythical beasts in a general sense, or would someone have to be specific as to the method?

For what it’s worth, if I was ripped off in this instance, it wouldn’t be the first time that an ad company had done so. As some of you may remember, several years ago a pervasive Fox Sports ad started running which featured a song written and performed by my one-day-a-year band, The Monkey Power Trio, without our written consent. In that case, we’d known about it, and we’d been exchanging emails with their advertising firm, but they started running the spots before we had a signed contract in place, which is apparently a big no-no in that industry. In the end, we worked it out. We didn’t end up making much money for it, but we learned a lot… most notably, that ad agencies, devoid of any creative ideas of their own, just mine subcultures for things that can be appropriated. And that, I’m thinking, is probably what happened in the offices of CHI&Partners, when they were called upon to find something “edgy” for Samsung.

[Here’s that Fox Sports ad, if you’re interested.]

Sepaking of MPT, the new record is now out. It’s called Misreattached, and it was recorded a few summers ago in the basement of Ypsilanti’s Dreamland Theater. (While we’ve managed to keep our promise of meeting one day a year since 1995 to record a single, we’re a bit behind when it comes to actually getting them out, hence the fact that our 2010 recording, which is our 16th, is just coming out now.) I’m tempted to take this opportunity and apologize for these four songs that we’ve just committed to vinyl, but, given the fact that they were all written from scratch and recorded in a few hours time, with no practice, by old men who only pick up instruments one day a year, I think that I’ll try to curtail my self-criticism for the moment, and, instead, share this very nice letter that we just recently received.

Dear MPT,

…I worked at — when I was an undergrad 10-15 years ago, and played your records on my show quite a bit. A few of the other DJs and I started an electronic improv/noise band that was definitely inspired by your style of DIY/just people hanging out and having fun/not ever practicing/etc…

Everyone in — hated us, but we constantly used our radio station clout to open for really great bands so we could shove middle fingers into the faces of all the pretentious rock n rollers who worked their buttholes off. Oh such sweet times.

I moved on to — for grad school, and have been lucky throughout my life to play music with wonderful people who tiptoe on the balance of taking art seriously and not taking art seriously. Really, I owe you guys a bit of thanks for never breaking your promises to the world.

Some day soon I want to buy all of the 7″‘s. Is there a discount for getting them all at once? Have you ever considered making a CD compilation or getting a label to throw everything together? Or a booklet to collect all the singles like Pokey Man?

I loved the radio show interview. In a sense bittersweet since it removed a bit of the mystery involved in your 20 years of rock n roll anonymity. But it’s cool too. Awesomely cool.

Keep on doing it, dudes!

So, I guess, despite what I tell myself, some people actually like what we do, and look forward to our records. If you’re one of those people, and you’re able to steal $8 from your mother’s purse, you can order a copy of Misreattached online starting today.

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  1. anonymous
    Posted February 17, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    I don’t like the commercial. I’m glad to see that guy who was fired from 30 Rock working again though.

  2. Dennis
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    If you think Samsung is ripping someone off, it’s probably the millions of pre-teen girls who love unicorns. You should feel lucky those pre-teen girls don’t form some kind of class-action lawsuit and sue you.

  3. Dennis
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    And using an image that isn’t your without sourcing it is a big mistake too. You might want to delete this post before Samsung finds it, or add a bunch of keywords like “I love the Samsung Galaxy III” in order to throw them off the trail.

  4. Edward
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    “Ad agencies, devoid of any creative ideas of their own, just mine subcultures for things that can be appropriated.” Truer words have never been spoken.

  5. anon
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    same with bloggers

  6. Eel
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    The song Dilapidated Lapidiary has all kinds of marketing potential.

    “A lapidary is an artist or artisan who forms stone, mineral, gemstones into decorative items such as engraved gems, including cameos.”

    If you play your cards right, you’ll have the cameo artists of the world in a bidding war by the end of the day.

  7. Knox
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    You can protect things like surgical procedures. I don’t think, however, you can own the idea of lopping off unicorn heads. It’s too broad. You’d need to identify a specific way of separating head from torso. And, if you really wanted to “own” it, you’d design a special tool for unicorn head removal. (I’m picturing something like an over-sized show horn, or bottle opener.) If I were you, I’d still ask Samsung to send a few of the new devices to you.

  8. K2
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I don’t think you have much of a case when it comes to intellectual property, but I think that you should be able to get something for pain and suffering, as they’re clearly making fun of you.

  9. Eel
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I’ve heard it said of the Monkey Power Trio, “It’s like someone pooped in my ear, and then drove it into my brain with a jackhammer.”

  10. XXX
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    If I’m not mistaken you’ve said before that you don’t cut the heads from unicorns but just collect them when they’re shed.

  11. Melissa
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Everyone knows that unicorns bleed mercury, not rainbows.

  12. Mr. X
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Their science is weak, Melissa.

  13. Elf
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I like how the old people are made to look like assholes in that ad.

  14. anonymous
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Squeaking Frog will have a commercial by the end of the month.


  15. Raffi Weiner
    Posted February 19, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    A zombie unicorn is nothing like a severed unicorn head. Stop flattering yourself Maynard.

  16. Jean Roden
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    This brought to mind Bob Lewis’s law suit against DEVO for intellectual property theft.


  17. Ola
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Samsung eats engorged Korean testicle saks.

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