In A World That Regularly Appropriates Black Culture And Identities… This Is Going To Be A Mortal Sin — Of Whites’ Egregious Appropriation / THEFT.

I will take Memorial Day 2021 to highlight the counterclaims of the Real Lady Aestablishing her priority to a common law trademark in music performances, nation-wide for. . . her stage name.

The white country act would have America believe that Anita White was trying to extort them for money. It was in fact quite the opposite — (as her federal counter-claims filing in Nashville, Tennessee from Thursday past explains — at pages 15-18) the country act tried to settle without paying Ms. White a penny for her 30 plus years of performing under this name.

As I watched The History Channel’s fine documentary tonight — on the 100 years since Tulsa’s Black Wall Street was burned, and its people of color massacred. . . it occurs to me that the white country act’s attempt here is simply the more-genteel version of just that same atrocity.

Ms. White built her brand with decades of long, late nights, on smaller stages in smoky bars — all around the US, and in Europe. . . only to awaken one morning in June 2020, and find out that a white band (formerly using a name that clearly evokes the slave-holding south, prior to the Civil War), had FINALLY decided to “clean up” their image — by simply stealing HER stage name, for their stage perfomances. [They had never used that name for stage performances prior to June 2020. They sold tee-shirts, and posters — but all of that came more than 15 years after the real Lady A was already using the name (a derivative of her own given name), on stage.] Do read it all, and a bit:

. . .[The white country act has] explained in interviews that the name “LADY ANTEBELLUM” had its origin in a 2006 Franklin, Tennessee photoshoot, during which Counter-Defendants posed in period dress in front of a pre-Civil War plantation. Drawing on inspiration from the shoot, Counter-Defendant Kelley suggested the name “Lady Antebellum. . . .”

[T]he LADY ANTEBELLUM mark has long courted controversy due to the association of its mark with a glorification of the pre-Civil War South. . . .

The effect of the name change on Ms. White’s ability to distinguish her music in the marketplace was overwhelming. Internet and social media searches for “Lady A,” which had readily returned results for her music, were now dominated by references to Counter-Defendants. Ms. White’s LADY A brand had been usurped and set on the path to erasure. . . . On information and belief, even if Counter-Defendants had used LADY A as a trademark, Ms. White possesses superior common law trademark rights, which precede the existence of Counter-Defendants’ band, and their alleged LADY A mark.

To the extent that any prior coexistence occurred, it was only because Counter-Defendants’ use was limited, lacked prominence, and would have been overshadowed by the well-known LADY ANTEBELLUM mark. . . . Since at least as early as the early 1990s, Ms. White has continuously used the LADY A trademark in connection with music and entertainment services in the nature of musical performances. Over the course of her career, and prior to 2006, Ms. White performed under the LADY A mark across the United States and developed strong, nationwide common law rights in the trademark LADY A. Ms. White’s common law trademark rights in the LADY A mark predate any rights in the LADY A mark allegedly owned by Counter-Defendants. The LADY A trademark used by Counter-Defendants is identical to Ms. White’s LADY A trademark. . . .

Both Counter-Defendants and Ms. White perform concerts and sell music under the LADY A trademark. Both Counter-Defendants and Ms. White offer their products and services through the same channels of trade, namely via Internet websites such as Spotify and iTunes, popular social media platforms, at concert venues, and at music festivals throughout the United States. Those seeking Ms. White’s music in online market places and on social media are now diverted to Counter-Defendants’ content under an identical mark, thereby causing initial interest confusion. . . .

I for one am fairly confident that as this litigation heads to trial, the white country act will have to settle. The above facts are damning — and unless they do not care about the goodwill of their band’s identity, they will have to come across with a seven figure payment for Ms. White — to restart her career, under a separate website and perhaps new name. Alternatively, the country act may be ordered to end the wrongful use of Ms. White’s common law marks (and find a new name, itself). Triple damages here lie, at trial, should infringement be found, as clearly the country act knew of Ms. White’s mark and reached out to her — not the other way around. . . .

Onward, be excellent to one another (and buy her music!), as you grill — tomorrow, and every day thereafter. . . smile.


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