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The Grammys goes legal against the Christian Grammys

By | Published on Friday 1 November 2019

Christian Grammy Awards

The Grammy Awards have gone legal against an event planned to take place in California later this month called the Christian Grammy Awards. The US Recording Academy, which produces America’s big annual music awards bash, reckons this planned celebration of Christian music-makers infringes its various trademarks.

In a lawsuit filed with the Californian courts yesterday, the Recording Academy provides a speedy history of its big awards show, stressing how iconic the name Grammy has become, and how widely it uses both its name and logo across its events and projects.

It then states: “Defendants are well aware of the popularity and fame of the Recording Academy’s Grammy trademarks and the goodwill represented and symbolised by these marks. Nevertheless, with full awareness of that popularity, fame, and goodwill, defendants have undertaken unfairly and in bad faith to use the Grammy marks for the purpose of drawing attention to defendants’ event”.

“Defendants have been unfairly trading off the Grammy brand by organising, hosting, advertising, and selling tickets to an event titled the ‘Christian Grammy Awards'”, it goes on. Before then adding that the god-fearing music awards event even has a logo that is clearly based on the image the real Grammys organisation uses, which is in turn based on the shape of the statuettes it hands out to winners at its award shows.

To add insult to injury – as far as the Recording Academy is concerned, anyway – not only is the Christian Grammy Awards calling itself the Christian Grammy Awards, in September it began the process of seeking trademark protection for its logo. A logo that contains the words Christian Grammy Awards and the aforementioned statuette-shape icon.

Says the lawsuit: “Upon information and belief, defendants created their design using the Grammy statuette as a foundation. The base of the Christian Grammy Awards design is the same as the base of the Grammy statuette: a black platform with a gold gramophone sound box atop. Defendants’ design swaps just the gramophone horn for the clef symbol, but includes the sound box, which serves no purpose in the design except to call to mind the Grammy brand”.

It has to be said that the logo that the Christian Grammy Awards is seeking to trademark is pretty shit, and that shitness alone might suggest to the average onlooker that these awards are not officially linked to the actual Grammy Awards, which already has a prize for Christian music.

But making your logo a bit shit isn’t enough, the Recording Academy reckons, to distinguish it from the official Grammy brand. “The addition of the word ‘Christian’ before ‘Grammy Awards’ is not sufficient to notify a consumer or the media that the ceremony and award presented are not affiliated with the Recording Academy”, the lawsuit then states.

On the basis all this infringes various trademarks owned by the Recording Academy, the lawsuits asks the court to order the Christian Grammy Awards to stop using the Grammy brand across its events and communications. Plus, of course, the real Grammys would like some damages. Three times, in fact.

The court, the lawsuit argues, should force the defendants to “pay the Recording Academy three times all of plaintiffs’ damages suffered as a result of defendants’ wilful, intentional, and deliberate acts in violation of [US trademark law] as well as the Recording Academy’s costs, attorneys’ fees, and expenses in this suit because this is an ‘exceptional case'”.

The Christian Grammy Awards is yet to respond to the litigation. Meanwhile God, as usual, was unavailable for comment.