Band name change causes trade mark dispute

In June of this year, the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum announced they were changing their name to Lady A, a nickname they claimed to be pre-established and used among fans since their formation in 2006. Their key reasoning being due to the realisation of connotations linking the word ‘antebellum’ to the slave trade, vowing the name change to be their first step in a commitment to practice antiracism.

However, what could be seen as a positive step for the band, was met with criticism from blues singer Anita White, who has been performing under the stage name ‘Lady A’ for over 20 years. An initial agreement was struck between the parties, allowing both to continue to use the name Lady A, with the band also offering career support and a sum of $10,000 to White.

White, however, was dissatisfied with this agreement and sought new legal representation to compose an alternative agreement, seeing a significant increase in the payoff to a new amount of $10 million. Following that proposal, the band sought legal action in July, as they argued to have owned the registered trade mark of ‘Lady A’ for over a decade. White then filed a counter-lawsuit in September, arguing that as she had used the name for longer, she had ‘accrued common law rights’ to the name.

Lady A, the singer, has now filed to move the trade mark case to Washington. Lady A, the band, have asked a Nashville court in the state of Tennessee to block these attempts, as they had made the initial case. US court rules provide that in the instance of two similar cases, the later-filed suit should be transferred to the district of the initial suit.

A decision has not yet been made, however, the band are hoping to see the court either transfer White’s case to Tennessee or dismiss it outright.

By Ellie King, student from Southampton Solent University

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