Saturday, June 22, 2024

Earth, Wind & Fire Tribute Act Must Prove R&B Group ‘Abandoned’ Name

Band Earth, Wind & Fire performing during the Veranos de la Villa Festival in Madrid. (July 5, 2013 – Source: Ipa Press/Bauer Griffin)

*An Earth Wind and Fire tribute band faces a trademark infringement lawsuit for using the legendary group’s name to promote shows.

The tribute band known as Earth Wind & Fire Legacy Reunion is being sued by the holding company that owns the name and rights of the original R&B group.  The “Legacy Reunion” claims the original members abandoned the group’s name.  Lawyers for the holding company called the case meritless and want it dismissed.

A federal judge, however, ruled last month that the tribute band will have to prove its argument in court, Billboard reports. 

Per Business Insurance, “A federal judge refused to do so, stating that the “Legacy Reunion” band might ultimately find it “difficult” to prove that “abandonment” argument, according to the magazine,” the outlet writes. 

Billboard reports that longtime members Philip Bailey, Ralph Johnson, and Verdine White have continued to tour since founding member Maurice White died in 2016. Band members operate under a license from a company called Earth Wind & Fire IP, which Maurice’s sons own.

Earth Wind & Fire - Live Nation-Getty
Earth Wind & Fire – Live Nation-Getty

Here’s more from Billboard:

In a March lawsuit, that company accused Legacy Reunion of trying to trick consumers into thinking it was the real Earth Wind & Fire. Though it called itself a “Reunion,” the lawsuit said the tribute band contained only a few “side musicians” who briefly played with Earth, Wind & Fire many years ago.

Facing the lawsuit filed by Earth, Wind & Fire, Legacy Reunion filed a response in August that listed out a dozen other tribute acts that allegedly feature “Earth, Wind & Fire” as part of their name. Legacy Reunion argued that since the original band had “taken no action to enforce its purported trademark rights,” it had legally abandoned them.

“Due to the unchecked third-party use of the phrase, [EW&F] has abandoned ‘Earth, Wind & Fire,’ and [the name] has lost its trademark significance,” wrote attorneys for Substantial Music Group, which operates Legacy Reunion, per Billboard.

Lawyers for the original group claim the tribute act is “misleading consumers and selling more tickets at higher prices.”

The judge overseeing the case ruled on Jan. 31 that the “Legacy Reunion” has to prove its argument in court. According to Business Insider, the judge noted that they might find it “difficult” to prove the “abandonment” argument.

READ MORE: Fred White: Earth, Wind & Fire Drummer Dies at 67 | VIDEO

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