The country trio Lady A, formerly known as Lady Antebellum, is suing the Seattle-based blues singer Anita White, who has used the stage name Lady A for two decades, over the use of the trademark.
In a lawsuit filed to a Nashville district court and obtained by TheWrap, the band Lady A seeks a judgment that its use of the Lady A trademark does not infringe on White’s use. It further claims the band had registered the Lady A trademark for entertainment purposes and has held the name for a decade. The band is not seeking monetary damages.
“Prior to 2020, White did not challenge, in any way, Plaintiffs’ open, obvious, and widespread nationwide and international 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 reads.
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The band, which is comprised of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and David Heywood, said in a statement via Billboard that though it had tried to come to terms with White over the name, White’s team demanded a payment of $10 million for the trademark.
“Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended. She and her team have demanded a $10 million payment, so reluctantly we have come to the conclusion that we need to ask a court to affirm our right to continue to use the name Lady A, a trademark we have held for many years,” the band said. “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. We’re disappointed that we won’t be able to work together with Anita for that greater purpose.”
Representatives for White did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
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Back on June 11, Lady A announced that it would change its name from Lady Antebellum in order to distance themselves from the name’s slavery-era history. White then called out the band in an interview with Rolling Stone and said she owned the Lady A LLC trademark and had toured and released music under the name for two decades.
“This is my life. Lady A is my brand, I’ve used it for over 20 years, and I’m proud of what I’ve done,” White told Rolling Stone. “This is too much right now. They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time. If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before. It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it.”
The band and White then appeared to patch things up after both parties shared a screengrab of a Skype call they shared.
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“Today, we connected privately with the artist Lady A. Transparent, honest, and authentic conversations were had. We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground. The hurt is turning into hope. More to come,” the band said.
Read the full statement from Lady A (via Billboard) below:
Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended. She and her team have demanded a $10 million payment, so reluctantly we have come to the conclusion that we need to ask a court to affirm our right to continue to use the name Lady A, a trademark we have held for many years. It was a stirring in our hearts and reflection on our own blindspots that led us to announce a few weeks ago that we were dropping the word ‘Antebellum’ from our name and moving forward using only the name so many of our fans already knew us by. 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. 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. Instead, we shared our stories, listened to each other, prayed and spent hours on the phone and text writing a song about this experience together. 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. We’re disappointed that we won’t be able to work together with Anita for that greater purpose. We’re still committed to educating ourselves, our children and doing our part to fight for the racial justice so desperately needed in our country and around the world. We’ve only taken the first small steps and will prioritize racial equality as a key pillar of the work of LadyAID, specifically leaning into supporting and empowering our youth. We hope Anita and the advisers she is now listening to will change their minds about their approach. We can do so much more together than in this dispute.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.