Lady A: A Tale Of Two Rivers — And Two Artists — With Only One Real Name: Nashville vs. Seattle Edition

Earlier today, in Nashville, the REAL Lady A moved to dismiss the Antebellum complaint for declaratory relief — on the grounds that the filing was a sham, all meant primarily to deprive her of the right of choosing venue and forum. She’s right.

Of more direct moment, though — just yesterday, she also smartly filed her own complaint in federal court in Seattle, her “home court” territory, alleging infringement of her prior, superior, common law marks, by Antebellum — since that national country act has certainly played concerts in Washington State over the years (so she can get them, there, for). . . selling tee-shirts, with an abbreviation on them.

Condor predicts she will be able to fix the venue in Seattle, Washington, and the Nashville, Tennessee federal action is likely to be dismissed, or transferred over, to Seattle. Here’s a bit of the substance of her well-pleaded claims — but do go read it all:

. . . .In the days that followed, Ms. White came to believe that the agreement being negotiated by her original pro bono counsel was not in her best interests. Specifically, the agreement would have allowed Lady Antebellum to continue using the LADY A while providing no compensation to Ms. White — only the promise that Lady Antebellum would make best efforts to assist her career and up to $10,000 reimbursement for legal fees associated with negotiating a resolution of the parties’ dispute (notwithstanding the fact that Ms. White was represented pro bono) and trademark filings for Ms. White’s LADY A mark. . . .

Ms. White retained new pro bono counsel at Cooley LLP, whom promptly attempted to resume negotiations with Lady Antebellum with the aim of protecting the LADY A brand established by Ms. White. To that end, Ms. White’s new pro bono counsel shared a draft settlement agreement with Lady Antebellum on July 6, 2020.

Instead of responding to the offer, and without warning, Defendants filed a declaratory judgment action against Ms. White in the Middle District of Tennessee on July 8, 2020 (the “DJ Complaint”). . . .

In the DJ Complaint, Lady Antebellum alleges that they have used LADY A as a trademark for music related offerings since as early as 2008. Lady Antebellum further alleges that Defendant LAE is the owner of U.S. Registration Nos. 4,004,006, 4,030,752, and 4,292,685 for LADY A. According to Lady Antebellum, the parties’ LADY A marks can coexist, notwithstanding the fact that they are identical, are used in connection with the same goods and services, and are rendered through the same channels of trade. . . .

To the contrary, on information and belief, prior to June 2020, Defendants did not perform as LADY A and did not make use of the fan-originated “LADY A” nickname as a trademark. . . .

On information and belief, even if Defendants had used LADY A as a trademark, Ms. White possesses superior common law trademark rights, which precede the existence of Defendants’ band, let alone their alleged LADY A mark. To the extent that any prior coexistence occurred, it was only because Defendants’ use was limited, lacked prominence, and would have been overshadowed by the well-known LADY ANTEBELLUM mark. . . .

Onward. . . justice will eventually. . . flow like a river, here — now, just not from the Cumberland basin. It will come on silvery shying disks, in the luminous dawn, to Anita White — from the grace-filled curves of the. . . Duwamish, winding to the south easily out. . . of Seattle. Smile — now you know.


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