Temptations and trademarks

« 'Shouting Fire' in a crowded Sundance theater | Main | Supreme Court has seen enough porn »

Temptations and trademarks

Thu Jan 22, 2009 @ 01:23AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Temptations The Temptations are one of the most successful acts in American musical history, recording hit after hit for Motown Records in the 1960s and 1970s. Now the group's legacy and future is caught up in a strange little trademark dispute.

A company called Live Gold Operations says it has been promoting the entertainment services of "former lead singers of the historical recording group The Temptations."

Meanwhile, Otis Williams also is performing under The Temptations moniker and on his website calls himself the "only living original member of The Temptations."
Live Gold responds that Williams "was never a lead singer." And somehow Universal Music Group is being sued. Say what?

Williams and Live Gold are fighting each other in a separate legal dispute, hashing out who owns the rights to use phrases like "The Temptations" and "Motown." That case has established that UMG holds the trademark to these phrases and has licensed the "Temptations" mark to Williams. A UMG lawyer Carla Miller also testified in that case the company hasn't licensed anybody to use "Motown" in live performances.

So now Live Gold is bringing suit against UMG, claiming that the statements made by Miller "were threatening to Live Gold, which wishes to use the word Motown in connection with the performances."

Live Gold is asking a California District Court to declare that UMG has abandoned its trademark on "Temptations" by failing to protest the use of the mark by others. Live Gold points out various singers and entities, including Live Gold for the past seven years, have been using the trademark freely. Therefore, UMG is claimed to have been put "on actual notice" of trademark use and has "never exercised any quality control" over the mark.

This is one of the stranger battles over the rights to use a band name, but things like this do happen from time to time. The seemingly endless litigation over the Beach Boys name is one example.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Temptations and trademarks:

The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

The Hollywood Reporter
Contact: Patrice Atiee at 323.525.2014 or [email protected]

The Hollywood Reporter is Your Complete Film Resource

The columnists and bloggers who write for The Hollywood Reporter have their collective finger on the pulse of the boxoffice. Martin Grove and the other THR columnists deliver their thoughts on the film industry in an uncompromised style. Subscribe to THR today and get the latest views from these film experts and get the latest movie reviews as well.