Flying Pigs and Trade Marks
10 July 2018 by Michael Downing
Musical differences often lead to bands breaking up and with lots of reputation and money at stake it’s no wonder that things often end up in legal process too. One such breakdown was that of Pink Floyd in the 1980s where original member Roger Waters left the band and assumed that the band wouldn’t want to, or be able to, carry on without him. When the remaining members of the band did carry on with the Pink Floyd name it led to a series of proceedings about the ownership rights of the music and various concepts & props associated with the band.
Eventually, at a settlement conducted on a house boat on the River Thames, most of the concepts and music created by Waters were assigned to him and the rest were assigned to the remaining Pink Floyd collective.
Of particular interest during the period of dispute, was the concept of the flying pig. In 1977 Pink Floyd released an album called Animals whose album cover featured a view of Battersea power station with an inflatable pig flying high above it. There is a rather amusing story that on the 2nd day of the photo shoot the huge inflatable pig broke free from its moorings and "went solo". It was soon spotted by airplane pilots at an altitude of 30,000 feet. During the Animals and subsequent tours it became a Pink Floyd tradition to send an inflatable pig out above the crowd on a gantry and pulley system. Roger Waters was the creator of the pig concept so he continued to use the inflatable pig at his solo concerts after the break up.
Roger Waters in concert in July 2018, the flying pig (left of the picture) is launched.
As ever, the devil is in the detail! The continuing Pink Floyd also performed versions of the tracks from Animals and continued to send an inflatable pig out above their concert audience. By this stage the rights of the pig belonged to Waters. The original Pink Floyd and Waters’ pig had always been a sow so in order to make a clear distinction the band added testicles to the pig in an effort to avoid a trade mark dispute and continued to use it as a concert prop. It’s a bit of a relief that eventually this was settled in a reasonably amicable fashion.
Here at a Waters show in 2018 there is evidence of some fan equipment to orientate the pig correctly and, as expected, no evidence of male genitalia.
For those that are interested, here is a more complete pigs gallery: www.neptunepinkfloyd.co.uk/photos/index.php/tag/286/Pig
If you have any trade mark questions then don't hesitate to get in contact. We are happy to talk about flying pigs or just about anything!