The Band FKA Lady Antebellum Files Lawsuit Against Singer Lady A Over Name

The group says it trademarked the name back in 2011

Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott, and Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum attend the 53nd annual CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena on November 13, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott, and Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum attend the 53nd annual CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena on November 13, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
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By Bonnie Stiernberg / July 9, 2020 9:45 am

Last month, the country band formerly known as Lady Antebellum decided to finally drop the controversial reference to the slavery-era South from their name in light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests and rebrand as “Lady A.” The only problem? A simple Google search would have revealed that the “Lady A” moniker was already taken — by a Black blues musician named Anita White who had been using it for more than 20 years.

Now, as negotiations between the band and White over the name have broken down, the group has officially filed suit against her in Nashville’s U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, claiming they own the trademark to the “Lady A” name.

“Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended,” the group said in a statement. “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 lawsuit claims that the group has used “Lady Antebellum” and “Lady A” interchangeably as early as 2006. As Billboard reports, they applied to register the “Lady A” name “for entertainment purposes, including live musical performances and streaming musical programming” in May 2010, and after there was no opposition by any person or entity, the application was registered in July 2011.

“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.

Still, the optics of the band dropping its original name due to its connection to racism and then suing a Black artist over a name she’s used professionally for decades are not great. “This is my life,” White told Rolling Stone. “Lady A is my brand, I’ve used it for over 20 years, and I’m proud of what I’ve done…They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time…It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it.”

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