According to SPIN.com, Black Flag founder Greg Ginn has lost his lawsuit against FLAG, a spin-off version of the aforementioned band featuring two of its original members Keith Morris (vocals) and Chuck Dukowski (bass).
Ginn claims that there can only be “one Black Flag”, and while his former bandmates are playing under a modified name, they shouldn’t use the handle they’ve adopted or the iconic Black Flag logo. He also accused Henry Rollins of using and abusing the legacy of Black Flag, and alleged that both Morris’ unit and Rollins attempted to secure their rights to the Black Flag copyright by manufacturing or selling bootleg records and T-shirts.
A court judge has ruled that SST Records does not have the rights to the Black Flag copyright, Ginn has no special rights to any of the trademarks and that neither him nor the label care about copyrghts or trademarks. The court also determines that Rollins (who was a member from 1981 to their original split in 1986) never left Black Flag.
Here’s what all of that looks like in legalese, via FLAG:
(1) the court found that SST had no rights in the trademarks;
(2) Ginn seemed to have no individual rights in the Black Flag trademarks;
(3) even if either had had any rights in those marks, they had abandoned those rights through a failure to police the mark for nearly 30 years;
(4) the defendants’ claim that the Black Flag assets were owned by a statutory partnership comprised of various former band members – even if these members only consisted of Henry and Ginn, based on (a) accepting Ginn’s argument that he never quit and given that there is no evidence or allegation that Henry ever quit – has merit;
(5) that even if the plaintiffs had some trademark claim in the marks, there was no likelihood of consumer confusion between Black Flag and Flag given the ample press coverage over the dispute; and
(6) the trademark application and registration that Henry and Keith made was done in good faith (e.g. not fraudulently) – and is thus not necessarily subject to cancellation – given that they understood their actions to have been done on the part of the Black Flag partnership (see No. 4, above).
Black Flag broke up back in 1986, although many of the former members have reunited occasionally since. The band is expected to release a new album this year, which will be their first since 1985’s Inside My Head and their first one with Ron Reyes on vocals.
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