Can’t we all just get along?
By Perez Mills
The copyright lawsuit that Black Flag/SST Records founder Greg Ginn filed against Keith Morris’ FLAG band and Henry Rollins has been dismissed. According to Spin, “a judge found that: SST has no rights to the Black Flag copyright [and] Ginn has no special rights to any of the trademarks.”
Ginn of course has been touring his current iteration of Black Flag while Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena, Bill Stevenson and Stephen Egerton have been performing Black Flag material under the name FLAG. Rollins was named in Ginn’s lawsuit of copyright violation as well (although Rollins doesn’t even perform music live anymore, concentrating instead on spoken word).
The Spin piece elaborates:
(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).
The BLURT takeaway: not enough fans like the one below are showing up at shows by the bands to make it profitable for everyone. So punk rock ladies, your course is clear. Don’t let the music die…