Atlanta music fans may have heard that the country group formerly known as Lady Antebellum recently changed its name to Lady A in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. Now, the group has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against a Seattle-based singer who also uses the name.
On June 11, Lady A band members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood announced that they were dropping the name Lady Antebellum because of its ties to pre-Civil War slavery, saying they didn’t want to be linked to the “associations that weigh down this word.” However, Anita White, a singer who has performed under the name Lady A for 30 years, took to Instagram the next day to criticize the band’s new name, saying that she had “worked hard” to build her brand under the moniker and wouldn’t give it up.
The group reportedly entered private talks with White to come up with a deal that would allow both parties to use the name. However, according to the band’s publicist, the negotiations broke down when the singer and her attorneys demanded $10 million in compensation. At that point, the band filed a federal lawsuit to establish the right to use the name Lady A, which they trademarked as a nickname in 2011. The suit seeks to establish that the group’s use of the name does not infringe on White’s “alleged trademark rights.” It does not seek monetary damages. However, White’s attorneys, who are representing her for free, said they intend to “zealously defend” her rights to the name.
Individuals and companies dealing with trademark disputes might find relief by working with an attorney familiar with intellectual property cases. The attorney could defend a client’s trademark rights and work to settle infringement issues as quickly as possible.