The Well-Made Bed, Ready for Lying: Lady A Edition

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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16 Responses

  1. IANAL, but if the band has clearly not been defending the trademark “Lady A” that they’ve had for 10 years if the singer has been using it for 20. Does that make it void?Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Mike Schilling says:


      if you’re wondering why it is that Disney comes down like a ton of bricks on videos of toddlers singing “Let It Go”, if you’re wondering why EMI makes YouTube automatically mute any videos with their licensed songs playing over someone’s dog being cute? Posts like yours are why.Report

      • Reformed Republican in reply to DensityDuck says:

        Except songs are covered under copyright, not trademark, and copyright does not have to be defended like trademark does. It does explain why everybody talks about “The Big Game,” though.Report

    • Reformed Republican in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Also NAL, but I could see it going the other way just as easily. If the singer was using it for 20 years, and did not defend it when the band started using it, she could lose it. The band could feasibly make an argument that they were unaware of the singer, but it would be more difficult for the singer to make the same argument about the band.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      There is a general view in trademark law of “use it or lose it” but I mainly (and very roughly) know this from the context of fear that a trademark becomes a “generic” term. Xerox launched a huge ad campaign to prevent their trademark from become a generic synonym for photocopy.

      But there are kinks in trademark law too. You can have local trademarks. There is a restaurant in Michigan that is called Burger King (not the chain). The actual chain Burger King tried to sue and lost because that restaurant had a valid use that preceded the chain. So the chain cannot operate within an X block radius of the local restaurant.
      In California, there is a winery called Stag’s Leap and another winery called Stags’ Leap. They sued each other for years until the California Supreme Court held that they both have a right to use Stag and Leap in their brand name. Since both wineries were founded around the same time and in the Stag Leap part of Napa, the California Supreme Court stated that both could use the name but said the apostrophe was what could use to differentiate the brands.

      People still get confused though.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    Not too late for “Lady Bellum”.Report

  3. Damon says:

    Well, that’s 5 minutes I’ll never get back. God what a tempest in a teapot.Report

  4. DensityDuck says:

    “A country band changes its name under the reasoning of supporting the current Black Lives Matter movement, only to walk all over an actual African-American artist who had been using the name for 20 years. ”


    Apparently they had an agreement that they’d pop her up in their marketing materials and collaborate on some music, and everybody was happy, and then she changed her mind and decided that she wanted ten million dollars too. So, y’know, it’s not quite the case that the first White heard of this was a lawsuit landing on her doorstep.

    And yeah, “work the leverage”, but it is possible to bid so high that the game collapses. If you ask for too much and you’re an asshole about doing it, maybe the other party decides that fighting you is less expensive than pretending they like the idea of working with you.Report

  5. Kazzy says:

    I remember when Lady Antebellum first got big, there were some minor rumblings about the name. Like, “They know what that means, right?” I don’t know if it ever got back to them and, if so, what their response was.

    Flash cut to today. Should they have changed their name? I dunno. Maybe it was a good idea. But it seems like they found the only route to making things worse without actually trying to do so. Like, come on guys, this makes you look like assholes and only adds fuel to the criticism from the other side of the aisle.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to North says:

      Was that real??? Holy smokes!

      I will confess to not knowing that Rollerblades were a trademark. I heard the term inline skating but though they were just synonyms.

      The velcro thing does (or at least did) used to cause me problems when ordering school supplies. We often use “hook and loop” fastener in our classrooms. Many school supply websites didn’t carry the brand name stuff nor do it have intuitive search algorithms. So you’d type in “velcro” and be told no search results popped up. “BUT I KNOW I ORDERED THIS FROM YOU LAST YEAR!” Eventually you find School Specialty Brand Hook and Loop Fastener and after staring at the picture for 5 minutes you realize that is what you need, make a mental note to search for that next year, and promptly forget.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Kazzy says:

        This seems to be real according to this ABA article. These are obviously actors playing lawyers:

        As I noted above, trademark revolves around “use it or lose it” as a legal philosophy. The patent for velcro expired and anyone can make the stuff but there seems to be a trademark for Velcro as well. The problem for Velcro as a company is that everyone uses Velcro in a generic way even if the product is manufactured by another company. Velcro, like Xerox, was concerned with losing their trademark and having the term become a generic synonym for the product. Xerox ran ads in the 80s that stated “Everytime you say Xerox to mean photocopy, we get a headache and need an Apirin.”* This seems to have been a failed attempt at protecting a mark using humor.

        *Aspirin is a term where Bayer lost the trademark because it became a generic way to refer to headache medicine instead of referring to the specific product released by Bayer. Though the story here is a little complicated because Bayer also had marks confiscated by the U.S. government at the start of WWII as assets of a hostile enemy But it is possible to lose a trademark.

        For extra geekery, trademarks are judged on a scale from generic to fanciful/arbitrary. I think there are five levels. Generic terms are not trademarkable. You are not allowed to trademark words like Plumber or Carpenter if your business does Plumbing or Carpentry. Google or Apple would be examples of fanciful/arbitrary trademarks for what they do.

        I think the other levels are descriptive and evocative and those receive more protection than generic but less protection than arbitrary/evocative. Lyft would be a potential example of an evocative or descriptive trademark.Report

        • Reformed Republican in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          You see a lot of fanciful naming in agricultural chemicals. There are names like Liberty, Nirvana, or Enlist for pesticides. The names have nothing to do with what the product does, so it is a lot easier to get a trademark than it would be for something like Weed-Kil.Report