Blues singer Lady A sues Lady A, the band, for copyright infringement


Lady A

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L Gabriels

Seattle blues singer Anita “Lady A” White has countersued the country band Lady A, in an escalating legal dispute over their name.

The case dates back to June when the band, formerly known as Lady Antebellum, changed their name over its links to slavery.

White, who has been performing as Lady A for decades, is now suing for sole usage of the name and compensation.

She claims confusion over the name has led to lost sales.

The legal papers, which were filed in Seattle on Tuesday, are the latest development in a case that has become increasingly bitter.

Lady Antebellum decided to change their name in June after the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests (the word antebellum is used to refer to the period and architecture in the US South before the Civil War).

However, they were unaware that White had been using the name since the 1990s, until she criticised them for making the switch without contacting her.

Band members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and David Haywood later spoke to the 61-year-old, declaring they had shared “transparent, honest, and authentic conversations”.

But talks broke down, and the trio said that White had demanded a $10m (£7.8m) payment.

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Getty Images

Image caption

Lady Antebellum – now Lady A – with the three Grammys they won in 2010

In July, they sued the singer, seeking a declaration that they could continue to use the name. Legal papers showed the band had filed a trademark for Lady A in 2010, and had used the term in merchandise and promotions before then.

White’s counter-suit claims she has a common law right to the Lady A trademark, based on her use of the name for albums and live performances dating back more than two decades.

Her lawyers argue that the Nashville band’s use of the name has already resulted in “lost sales, diminished brand identity, and diminution in the value of and goodwill associated with the mark”.

“The effect of the name change on Ms White’s ability to distinguish her music in the marketplace was overwhelming,” said the papers filed on Tuesday.

“Internet and social media searches for Lady A, which had readily returned results for her music, were now dominated by references to Lady Antebellum. Ms White’s Lady A brand had been usurped and set on the path to erasure.”

Because of this, White is seeking undisclosed damages in a jury trial, as well as the sole rights to the Lady A name.

Her lawyers have also asked for a “reasonable royalty fee for any sales of music or musical performances rendered under the Lady A mark”.

The band, who have won five Grammys and scored seven top 10 albums in the US, have yet to respond.

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