The battle between Seattle singer Lady A and the band Lady A (formerly known as Lady Antebellum) appears bound for a courtroom.
Lady A, the singer (real name Anita White), has filed a federal lawsuit against the band and members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, claiming trademark infringement and unfair competition. The suit was filed Tuesday in US District Court’s Seattle division.
The country music group had previously sued White in federal district court in Nashville in July, claiming trademark infringement. The filing came shortly after the two had publicly said they were working to coexist together with the same moniker.
On June 11, members of the band Lady A renounced their name saying when they formed 14 years ago, they didn’t consider the pre-Civil War “associations that weigh down this word,” including ties to slavery.
The move came shortly after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
A day later, White, who is Black, blasted the country group in an Instagram post, saying: “How can you say Black Lives Matter and put your knee on the neck of another Black artist? I’m not mad..I am however not giving up my name, my brand I worked hard for. #GodWillFightMyBattle #TheRealLadyA #LadyABluesSoulFunkGospelArtist #TheTruthIsLoud.”
The following week, both shared news that they’d connected privately, prayed together and both intended to keep using the stage name. White told USA TODAY the band reached out to her to have “open and honest conversations” and Scott apologized.
More: Country group Lady A sues Seattle blues singer Lady A in trademark dispute
ACMs: Old Dominion on host Keith Urban: ‘He’s such a calming presence’
Those discussions deteriorated and White and her attorneys asked for a $10 million payment, according to a statement sent to USA TODAY by the band’s publicist Tyne Parrish.
The band did not ask for monetary damages. Rather, they asked the court for a declaratory judgment that their trademarked uses of Lady A “do not infringe any of White’s alleged trademark rights in ‘Lady A.’ ”
Parrish told USA TODAY on Wednesday the band had nothing new to say regarding White’s newly filed countersuit, referring instead to previously issued statements.
“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,” a statement issued in July said.
In her suit, White says she has used the stage name Lady A for 30 years, releasing six albums.
“Ms. White has accrued common law rights in the LADY A trademark in connection
with music and entertainment services as a result of her long, continuous, and prominent use of the LADY A mark since at least the early 1990s,” the suit claims. “Ms. White’s rights in the LADY A trademark are particularly strong in the State of Washington and the Pacific Northwest, where most of her performances have occurred; however, her rights also extend nationwide by virtue of Ms. White’s numerous performances and music sales under the LADY A trademark throughout the United States. Ms. White’s nationwide common law trademark rights date to at least as early as the early 2000s, when she first began performing extensively outside of the State of Washington.”
White claims her “brand has been usurped,” with internet search engines now directing people searching for “Lady A” to content related to the band instead of her.
In addition to damages White says she has already sustained, her suit seeks royalty fees related to the band’s continuing usage of the Lady A name.
Follow Gary Dinges on Twitter @gdinges