Lady A is suing blues singer Anita White over name trademark

The Band Lady A Files Lawsuit Against 'Lady A' Singer Anita White

After negotiations broke down over use of the name, the country-music trio Lady A, formerly Lady Antebellum, is suing veteran blues singer Anita White, who has been using Lady A as a stage moniker for decades. "But I'm not about to stop using my name".

"Today we are sad to share that our honest hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common goal has ended", the band explains in their statement. The band then filed a lawsuit, asking the court to protect their rights to a name they claim they've held a trademark for since 2011.

"Prior to 2020, White did not challenge, in any way, Plaintiffs' open, obvious and widespread nationwide and global use of the Lady A mark as a source indicator for Plaintiffs' recorded, downloadable and streaming music and videos, Plaintiffs' live musical performances or Plaintiffs' sale of souvenir merchandise", the lawsuit notes.

Following the global protests over the death of George Floyd, the band announced last month that it would be dropping Antebellum from its name because it "did not take into account the associations that weigh down this word", acknowledging the central role of slavery during the period. The 13-page court filing outlines the different ways the group, best known for the worldwide hit "Need You Now", has registered the name over the years. The band, White says, wanted to record a song with her, and wanted to record the process. When she tried upload her new independent single via independent distribution service DistroKid, she couldn't verify her name at first and is now "waiting until my July release to see if my single will be buried".

Under a trademark coexistence agreement, it is possible for two artists to share a trademark so long as the artists in question don't interfere with each others' enterprises; for example, two singer-songwriters can both be known as Alex G because they access different markets. But White later objected to that description, saying she did not in fact reach an agreement to share the name. The court documents for the suit explicitly state, "Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that, among other things, their use of their trademarks incorporating "Lady A" do not infringe any of White's alleged trademark rights in 'Lady A.' Plaintiffs do not seek monetary damages through this action".

The moment of togetherness was short-lived, however.

Chris Talbott is a Seattle-based writer and editor.

On June 15, White shared a snapshot of a Zoom call between her and band members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and David Haywood, pointing to a peaceful resolution. We felt we had been brought together for a reason and saw this as living out the calling that brought us to make this change in the first place.

They added: "We can do so much more together than in this dispute". "We're disappointed that we won't be able to work together with Anita for that greater objective", they said. "For example, the Musical Group has a unique Lady A artist page with over 7 million monthly listeners featuring only the Musical Group's music (including its album artwork) beneath a prominent photo of the Musical Group, while White has a separate unique Lady 'A" artist page with (as of filing) 166 monthly listeners featuring three of her four albums (including her album artwork) beneath a prominent photo of White".

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