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Kraftwerk singer sues over same-name charger

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A Kraftwerk concert in Berlin in January. Photo: DPA
09:05 CET+01:00
Update: Charger company eZelleron's CEO told The Local that he invites Kraftwerk lead Ralf Hütter to have a conversation with them, after the singer filed a trademark infringement suit against their phone-charger named 'kraftwerk'.

Hütter is suing Dresden-based eZelleron for trademark infringement after they named their new fuel cell-powered phone charger 'kraftwerk' – German for power station.

The complaint was filed on Monday in Delaware – where the company is incorporated – and states that "consumers are likely to assume that there is a connection, association, or relationship between the famous electronic Music band and a charger for portable musical- playing devices." 

But CEO Sascha Kühn said in a statement to The Local that the company did not know of the lawsuit until it was reported on by American media.

eZelleron's product is advertised as a wireless, energy-efficient phone charger that uses fuel cell technology to transform gas into electricity, enabling users to generate their own energy.

Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign started in December garnered more than $1.5 million (more than €1.4 million) from 11,660 interested backers. 

"We do not understand Mr. Hütter's argument that our power station, which like all other power stations produces power, cannot be called a power station," Kühn said.

He added that "we see no risk of confusion with the band name," and invited Hütter and the band to the company to see how the product works.

"We do not care for a worldwide legal battle and we hope that our invitation for a conversation can eliminate the problem."

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Kühn also said that the company had consulted with both American and German law firms, who assured them that the name could be used.

Hütter owns exclusive trademark rights to a wide range of products related to the band, ranging from "video data and optical data in the field of music entertainment" to "toilet paper, paper diapers, cardboard containers, paper bags and wrapping paper", according to the complaint.

He co-founded Kraftwerk in 1970 in Düsseldorf, going on to earn international acclaim, including a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys last year.

Hütter is seeking, among other things, compensation for damages as well as "any and all the domain name registrations owned or controlled by [eZelleron] containing the term KRAFTWERK be transferred" to him.

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