Korean girl group T-ara's former agency was criticized for registering the band's name as a trademark.
MBK Entertainment registered the name "T-ara" with the Korean Intellectual Property Office on December 28, just three days before the expiration of the contracts of four remaining members of the girl group.
If the office approves the trademark registration, the former T-ara members cannot use the group's name for 10 years unless MBK agrees. They also need to pay fees to MBK if they perform their songs.
Korean media likened T-ara's situation to the boy band Highlight, which failed to use their original name BEAST as their former agency, Cube Entertainment, registered it.
"We have applied to register a trademark for the name T-ara. We believe that we are justified in applying for this trademark as the [former] agency [of the group]," MBK said.
However, netizens criticized MBK's founder Kim Kwang Soo for the action.
"We're dealing with Kwang Soo here, didn't you expect this to happen? He always lives up to our expectations, he's such a thug tsk tsk," wrote one Korean netizen.
Another said, "It's so sad how things can turn for the worse... before their scandal, every song they put out was a hit and they all had great images... now their image has gone to sh*t, their contracts are expired, they can't even use their own team name, let alone sing their old songs... They really were just slaves for MBK tsk tsk."
"Kwang Soo's a thug to the bone... tsk tsk tsk, he always plays dirty," one netizen commented.
MBK denied that the issue is the same as Highlight and BEAST.
"Saying that this will be a second BEAST situation is pure speculation. In that case, the agency had forbidden the members of BEAST (now Highlight) from using the name BEAST after they had settled on their future plans and requested to use it. We had a beautiful parting with T-ara. We parted on good terms and the members have not decided on their future plans yet. We don't believe it's right for us to be criticized for our actions," the agency stated.