One has to wonder whether the Woke Band Formerly Known as Lady Antebellum has decided to become an avante-garde performance artist troupe rather than an actual country-music band. First the Nashville-based group tried to change its name and claim that it had no idea about the baggage around the word “antebellum,” a laughable premise in itself. Then it claimed the name Lady A, only to discover that an African-American blues singer had used that for years, who then accused the band of exercising its “white privilege” in not even bothering to check whether the name was available.
And just when you thought the story couldn’t get any better, the lawsuit dropped. No, Anita “Lady A” White didn’t sue Lady Antebellum — the band is suing her to get control of the name, all in service of paying homage to Black Lives Matter. Because nothing says “woke” like appropriating a black woman’s stage name and then suing her to steal it for good, right?
Country group Lady A, which dropped the word “Antebellum” from its name because of the word’s ties to slavery, has filed a lawsuit against a Black singer who has performed as Lady A for years.
The Grammy-winning vocal group filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal court after negotiations with Anita White broke down in recent weeks. According to the lawsuit, the band is seeking a ruling that their use of the trademark “Lady A” does not infringe on White’s alleged trademark rights of the same name. The band is not seeking monetary damages. …
According to the lawsuit, the band applied for trademarks for the name “Lady A” for entertainment services and for use on clothing back in 2010 and no oppositions were filed by any person or entity.
“When we learned that Ms. White had also been performing under the name Lady A, we had heartfelt discussions with her about how we can all come together and make something special and beautiful out of this moment,” said the group in a statement. “We never even entertained the idea that she shouldn’t also be able to use the name Lady A, and never will — today’s action doesn’t change that.”
Er … wanna bet? If the group trademarked the name “Lady A” in 2010, then they had a duty to defend it and to use it commercially for themselves. Part of defending a trademark is to show some effort in making sure it doesn’t get used commercially by others, especially in the same industry. A Lady A shaver, for instance, might not be a problem, but having another recording artist perform under that name for ten years without their knowledge will look to a court like the band abandoned that claim. Their trademark won’t survive long if that’s the case, and if White did trademark it too, then Lady Wokebellum is going to have some real problems.
Supposedly the negotiations broke down over the payment to White for not contesting the new name. Reportedly, she wanted millions of dollars, no doubt for some justice for the band’s complete ignorance of her existence until after they announced the name change. The band may want to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter, but White might want to impress on them just how much she matters. When this is all over, a $10 million check might end up looking like a steal.
The end result is likely that Lady Cray-Cray will need to come up with a new name … again. Perhaps Lady A** will suffice as different enough from White’s persona and trademark, and it might be the most accurate name yet. However, they can always borrow from Brit alt-pop and rename themselves Wokery Will Eat Itself. Can you dig it?