Korean pop star Rain might be able to use his stage name for performances in the U.S. now that an injunction has been dismissed, but his industry reps might not be out of legal hot water just yet.
Rain, a product of Korean boy-band dance pop, postponed a North American tour weeks before its launch and now he is listed as a defendant in a lawsuit by the company that would have promoted his Honolulu date.
Rain’s handlers in Korea claimed the postponements were due to a legal challenge by a Beatles tribute act that has "Rain" in its title ("Rain: The Beatles Experience"). The injunction was denied, but only one show remained on the books: a June 30th date at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Eric Seitz, the attorney who represents Honolulu’s Click Entertainment, says it’s hogwash and his clients are suing Rain et al for millions.
"There were arguments raised that this lawsuit in Las Vegas was an impediment to going ahead with the tour here," Seitz told Pollstar. "We’re somewhat appalled by that because there are trademark infringements all the time, or threats of them, and normally they’re settled or resolved in some matter. They don’t scuttle a multimillion-dollar tour based on that consideration. … If need be, they could have just settled with the people who were filing this lawsuit."
According to the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, Click Entertainment booked a July 3rd Rain date at the Aloha Stadium, purchasing licensing rights from Korea for $500,000. Named in the lawsuit are JYP Entertainment, Star M Entertainment, Revolution Entertainment and Ji-Hoon Jeong (aka Rain), among other defendants.
John Yi, representing Revolution Entertainment in the U.S., told Pollstar his company is not the one named in the lawsuit, which is in Korea, and hopes this lawsuit will not damage the credibility of the artist.
The lawsuit alleges the companies named shifted responsibility back and forth as a subterfuge for fraudulent activity, and they never intended to bring the artist to the islands.
"At some point, they told us that the Aloha Stadium was inadequate," Seitz said. "My understanding is the production manager who is very well known and well regarded – Mark Russo – had lengthy conversations with people in Korea about production requirements.
"If the Rolling Stones can appear at Aloha Stadium, Mark assured them and assured us that all of the concerns could be addressed and there would be no impediments," Seitz said. "Everything was shipped here in anticipation of that, and the people in Korea knew that was the case. For them to use that as an excuse, it has no credibility at all."
The $500,000 was not an artist deposit put in escrow; it was sent to Korea to secure licensing rights for the K-pop star and has not been recovered, Seitz said. Click spent approximately $250,000 on advertising and promotion that Seitz wants to see recouped.
"My clients are out somewhere between $800,000 and $900,000 already and then there were anticipated profits. Then, if we prove fraud, there are treble damages at a minimum and punitive damages. So we’re talking potentially tens of millions of dollars here."
Seitz said his firm was in the process of serving Rain and his business entourage at the Staples show.
"Then we’re going to go ahead with a hearing to attach the proceeds of the Los Angeles concert, take discovery and proceed with litigation. The guy is going to be out of luck in the United States. He won’t be able to perform anywhere because we’ll tie up everything he has."
Click is suing for fraud, claiming the Korean contingent never planned to bring Rain. Asked the difference between incompetence and fraud, Seitz said the latter has a significant legal difference in regard to the damages a plaintiff can request.
"Factually, we were hoping they were incompetent and that’s why we made contacts, sent somebody to Korea and tried to find solutions that would not involve litigation, but we couldn’t find anyone to talk to," Seitz said. "If you’re incompetent, you try and fix your mistakes. If there’s a lot of money involved, and it’s gone, you have to conclude the worst."
He added that he hopes the artist will do what is right, no matter if Rain is even aware of what has happened, and book a date in Honolulu to clear his name, make good with the fans and help make the promoter whole.
Click had sold 5,000 tickets for the Aloha Stadium show, and Ticketmaster will refund the fans. Prices ranged from $55 to $300. There were also plenty of tickets available for the Staples show at press time.
By the way, Rain: The Beatles Experience is not the only artist to have a moniker similar to Ji-Hoon’s. A hip-hop artist from Norwalk, Conn., is also named Rain, as is an artist based in Nice, France.