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Lady As trademark battle is over

By | Published on Wednesday 2 February 2022

Lady A

The trademark battle between the two Lady As (Ladies A?) is over. Both sides together submitted papers to dismiss the litigation earlier this week.

One of the Lady As is the band formally known as Lady Antebellum, who changed their name in June 2020 because of the word antebellum’s associations with the slave trade. The other is the blues singer Anita White, who has been performing under that name for more than 20 years.

After it quickly became clear that Lady A the singer was somewhat annoyed that Lady A the band were now using her name, the two sides in the dispute had a meeting over Zoom which initially seemed productive. But White wasn’t happy with the written agreement that followed that discussion. So she hired new lawyers who wrote their own alternative agreement which reportedly included a $10 million pay off for the singer.

That’s when the lawsuits began. Lady A the band went legal first, arguing that they already owned the trademark in Lady A because it had been an informal nickname used by their fans for years. White then filed her own lawsuit claiming she had “accrued common law rights” in the name simply by using it for so long.

Under US court rules, where two suits are very similar, the later-filed case is generally transferred to the district where the first was filed, which was in Tennessee. White tried to argue for the opposite to happen – ie for the band’s case to be transferred to here home state of Washington where she’d filed her lawsuit – but without success.

But now no court will consider the dispute. Both sides requested the lawsuits be dismissed with prejudice, meaning future legal action on this issue will not be possible. Terms of any settlement are not known, but each side will take care of its own legal costs.

This week’s legal filing simply stated: “The band dismiss all claims in this action against White with prejudice. White dismisses with prejudice all counterclaims against the band in this action. Each party shall bear its own costs, expenses, and attorney’s fees”.

White’s legal reps from law firm Cooley LLP were providing their services pro bono. They told Law360 that it had been an “honour” to represent such an “amazing individual and artist”, adding: “Cooley appreciates how important it is for women and people of colour to tell their own stories. This is Anita’s story to tell”.