Anita ‘Lady A’ White Countersues Country Trio Lady A for Alleged Trademark Infringement
Blues singer Anita White, who has performed under the stage name Lady A for several decades, is countersuing the country trio formerly called Lady Antebellum over the rights to the name Lady A. According to Rolling Stone, White's new filing alleges trademark infringement, saying her brand has been "usurped and set on the path to erasure."
White filed suit in the U.S. District Court’s Western District of Washington on Tuesday night (Sept. 15) against the trio of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, as well as their company, Lady A Entertainment, LLC, Rolling Stone reports. White's filing states that she holds “nationwide common law rights in the trademark LADY A in connection with music and entertainment services in the nature of musical performances." Her suit also claims that her ownership of the name goes back further than any claim the country trio might have.
The county trio officially changed their name from Lady Antebellum to Lady A on June 11 amid renewed focus on racism an inequality in America, wanting to avoid the slavery-era associations of the word "antebellum." White objected in an interview with Rolling Stone after the change was announced, saying that they did not consult her before making the change, which she called a PR move aimed at making a show of solidarity with the Black community in the wake of George Floyd's death.
On June 15, the trio and White met via video chat to sort out the issues around the name. Those talks broke down, and the country trio filed suit in early July, accusing White of "attempt[ing] to enforce purported trademarks rights in a mark that Plaintiffs have held for more than a decade" and asking the court to affirm the band's right to the name, which they had previously used interchangeably with Lady Antebellum as a nickname for more than a decade, according to Billboard.
White's countersuit alleges that the trio's use of the Lady A name infringes upon her legal rights. Her legal filling also claims that since using the name, the trio have dominated searches on digital music services and social media, causing her “lost sales, diminished brand identity, and diminution in the value of and goodwill associated with the mark.” White's suit alleges trademark infringement and unfair competition.
According to Billboard, the country trio applied to register "Lady A" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in May of 2010. The name was officially registered for entertainment purposes, "including live musical performances and streaming musical programming," on July 26, 2011. White did not challenge that at the time, according to the trio's suit, which asks for no monetary damages.
White's 13-page filing, available via Rolling Stone, asks for payment for their alleged infringement on the Lady A name, a royalty fee for sales of music and paid performances under that trademark and unspecified compensatory damages.
Country Music's Nastiest Lawsuits: