Jul 2020

What’s In a Name? The Lady A Trademark Saga Continues

The name battle continues between the country group formerly known as Lady Antebellum and Seattle artist, Anita White, who goes by stage name Lady A, after the country trio files suit for rights to the name Lady A.

Lady Antebellum announced its name change in June 2020 in a gesture of goodwill due to the conversations around racism in the country. The term Antebellum is tied to the pre-war, slavery-filled era.

Unfortunately, the band rebranded themselves as “Lady A” causing a dispute with blues singer, Lady A, who has used her stage name for 30 years.

While the artists came together to try to resolve the dispute peacefully, Lady A has stated that she refuses to let the country trio erase her completely without compensation.

In the complaint, the trio argues that they hold the registration to the federal trademark to “Lady A” since 2015 while Lady A the singer does not, however, White started using the name 20 years ago.

Ultimately, the band would like to have the court affirm both parties can use the name. The case of a trademark comes down to two things: prior usage and scope.

In order to defend the prior usage statement, White will need to prove she was publicly using the stage name Lady A in advertising, billboards, posters, etc. over 20 years ago.

The geographic scope will also come into play as trademarks can be registered in two different states without conflict. The artist Lady A resides in Washington while the country trio filed suit in Tennessee.

We will continue to watch how the court rules on the use of Lady A for all parties.  The lesson learned in this case is that had Lady A the artist properly trademarked her name 20 years ago, it would be difficult for Lady Antebellum to have registered for the trademark as well.

Whether you are an individual artist or an internationally-recognized band, protecting your company’s assets is crucial to avoid litigation and keeping your intellectual property safe.

If you need assistance with your trademark or other intellectual property, contact attorney Carrie Ward for more information.