The band formerly called Lady Antebellum argues its use of the trademark “Lady A” does not infringe on Anita White’s alleged trademark rights.
NASHVILLE, Tenn — Country group Lady A, which dropped the word “Antebellum,” from their name because of the word’s ties to slavery, has filed a lawsuit against a Black singer from Seattle who has performed as Lady A for more than 30 years.
The Grammy-winning vocal group filed the lawsuit on Wednesday in federal court after negotiations with Anita White broke down in recent weeks. According to the lawsuit, the band is seeking a ruling that their use of the trademark “Lady A” does not infringe on White’s alleged trademark rights of the same name. The band is not seeking monetary damages.
The group made up Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood announced the name change last month, saying they were regretful for not taking into consideration the word antebellum’s associations with slavery.
But White, who has been releasing blues and soul music for years as Lady A, complained publicly that the band never reached out to her before changing their name. Negotiations over the name failed to reach an agreement.
“I feel that it’s not right that they can come and decide that they want to use this name and take it from me because now it feels like another knee on my neck,” White told KING 5’s “New Day Northwest” last month. “Take your knee off our neck.”
There have been massive protests nationwide sparked primarily by the death of George Floyd, a black man. He died on May 25 after bystander video showed a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck for several minutes. That officer has been charged with murder and manslaughter. Three other officers are charged with aiding and abetting.
According to the lawsuit, the band applied for trademarks for the name “Lady A” for entertainment services and for use on clothing back in 2010 and no oppositions were filed by any person or entity.
“When we learned that Ms. White had also been performing under the name Lady A, we had heartfelt discussions with her about how we can all come together and make something special and beautiful out of this moment,” said the group in a statement. “We never even entertained the idea that she shouldn’t also be able to use the name Lady A, and never will — today’s action doesn’t change that.”