There are lawyers in practice today that probably weren’t even born when the band known as “Jefferson Starship” was at its peak back in the mid-1970s and 1980s.
For the record, they were pretty famous. Famous enough that the name still carries a significant amount of interest to those who cut their musical teeth on that band and others from the era — which is why the majority of the former band is still using the name as they continue to tour.
However, there’s a small hitch in the road surrounding that issue — one of the old band mates says that there was a formal the name back in 1985.
The group’s former guitarist, who isn’t part of the revival of the band (which started back up in 1995) says that the current group is using old promotional images of Jefferson Starship (including photos of him) to mislead fans into thinking that they’re buying tickets to the real Jefferson Starship through blatantly false advertising.
It’s a move he finds ethically and morally reprehensible. He also feels that it is tarnishing the legacy of an iconic band from a bygone era.
It isn’t like the band hasn’t changed names before, either. Those with long memories may recall the band’s original name, “Jefferson Airplane,” which was changed when there was a major shakeup in the composition of the band’s members.
A federal judge rejected the motion to dismiss the lawsuit by the former guitarist, saying that defense claims that the ads were “expressive works” and not promotional materials was nonsense.
One interesting issue explored in this case is that the guitarist did give his consent to one of the band’s founding members to begin using the band’s name again in 1993. However, the guitarist maintains that was a limited permission, granted solely to his old band mate. When the band mate died in 2016, the consent he’d been given died with him. In the guitarist’s opinion, there isn’t enough of the original band left touring to be considered the same group.
One lesson to be taken from a case like this is that contracts aren’t limited by age — an agreement made in the 1980s is still valid today if there was no expiration date built into it.
An attorney can provide help if you have contract dispute looming or need a contract analyzed.
Source: Hypebot.com, “Founding Member of Jefferson Starship’s Lawsuit Over Name Continues,” Bruce Houghton, Nov. 08, 2017