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Alan Parsons’ lawsuit against former business partner allowed to continue

By | Published on Friday 13 March 2020

Alan Parsons

The Florida court where musician and producer Alan Parsons sued his former business partner John Regna of WEAA has refused to dismiss the case on jurisdiction grounds. Regna had sought dismissal on the basis that his dispute with Parsons was already being fought out in European courts.

Having first build his reputation via studio work with the likes of The Beatles and Pink Floyd, Parsons enjoyed success in the 1970s and 1980s through his creative partnership with the late Eric Woolfson. That collaboration used the moniker The Alan Parsons Project.

In more recent times Parsons worked on a solo basis with the American company World Entertainment Associates Of America, which is run by Regna.

Parsons pursued various projects between 2009 and 2018 with the support of Regna and his business. The two men ultimately ended their alliance in part, says Parsons, because of “Regna’s erratic and intolerable behaviour”.

After they stopped working together, Regna put together a live show featuring session musicians who worked with the Alan Parsons Project back in the day and then started promoting that show using variations of Parsons’ brand, most recently “The Project, the original voice, original musicians of The Alan Parsons Project & Friends”.

In a lawsuit filed in Florida in January, Parsons claimed that – with that venture – Regna was infringing his trademarks, breaching past contracts and participating in unfair competition in a way that has “caused and is causing Parsons many millions of dollars in actual damages”.

The legal filing also insisted that the people involved in Regna’s Project project were simply work-for-hire musicians who had no actual claim to the Alan Parsons Project name.

Regna’s lawyers are trying to have that lawsuit dismissed. One argument for dismissal is based on jurisdiction grounds. Before he went legal in the US, Parsons sought an injunction through the Spanish courts in a bid to stop a performance of Regna’s Project show in Spain.

Regna responded with his own legal action through the UK high court in London. Therefore, his attorneys argued, with this dispute already being fought in the English courts, the courts in Florida should not interfere.

Considering that argument, judge Roy B Dalton Jr at the US District Court in Orlando conceded that “for ‘acts of trade-mark infringement … consummated in a foreign country by a citizen and resident of the United States’, courts must consider whether exercising jurisdiction would interfere with the sovereignty of another nation”.

However, he went on, “the court is not faced solely with acts consummated internationally”, because Regna’s Project project has not been confined to Europe.

The judge continued: “Here there are two US defendants (Regna and WEAA) who are allegedly violating US trademarks by: running their business in the US, soliciting former musicians to play in an ‘imposter band’ in the US, maintaining infringing internet domains in the US, and drafting and sending emails from the US to solicit infringing bookings”.

With all that in mind, “while the effects of these violations may be felt abroad, many of the violations occurred here – and unquestionably it is within a district court’s jurisdiction to hear a claim between US citizens for alleged violations of federal law occurring within the United States”.

So, Regna’s bid to have Parsons’ lawsuit dismissed has been formally knocked back by Dalton Jr. Or at least this one has. Apparently Team Regna have also raised some other procedural issues that they reckon are grounds for dismissal too. The judge is yet to rule on those.

But, for now, Parson’s Stateside litigation continues.