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Court sides with Commodores over Commodore in Commodores trademark case

By | Published on Friday 24 August 2018

The Commodores

A judge has ruled in favour of the Commodores in their legal fight with a Commodore over his use of the word Commodores. The Commodore may be a Commodore in spirit, but he’s an ex-Commodore in commerce, and ex-Commodores, even if they still consider themselves to be Commodores, should never say they are Commodores, because only the Commodores get to say that they are Commodores. Isn’t trademark law fun?

As you may remember, Commodores Entertainment Corp – the business behind the current incarnation of the Commodores – sued a former member of the group in April, accusing him of infringing the outfit’s trademark and violating previous court orders to boot.

The incarnation of the Commodores represented by CEC includes a founder member of the group, William King. Their beef is with another founder member, Thomas McClary. CEC said he was infringing its marks by performing under various confusing names, including the likes of ‘The Commodores Experience featuring Thomas McClary’.

The squabble over McClary’s use of the Commodores brand had gone legal before, which is why CEC also accused him of violating an earlier court ruling.

In its April legal filing, CEC said McClary continued to use the Commodores name on his social channels and in promotions for upcoming music festival appearances. The company then stated that: “Mr McClary calling his band ‘The Commodores Experience’, ‘Commodores’ Experience’ or ‘Commodore’s Experience’ is likely to cause additional consumer confusion, is not historically accurate and is not using CEC’s marks in fair use”.

Both sides subsequently made a number of complaints about the other, most of which the Florida judge hearing the case, Roy B Dalton, has now knocked back. However, according to Law 360, on the central issue Dalton has sided with CEC, ruling that McClary has indeed used the company’s marks and in doing so has likely confused concert-goers.

To that end the judge issued a summary judgement in CEC’s favour on the trademark infringement point while also “keeping open the possibility of damages under Florida’s Deceptive And Unfair Trade Practices Act”. But he also confirmed that other elements of the two parties’ dispute were being dismissed, declaring that: “When the music stops, only CEC’s claims for damages under [trademark law] and FDUTPA remain viable”.

Look at that, “when the music stops”! All hail those judicial jokers. Despite being exhausted from all the laughter, CEC’s legal reps confirmed that they were now planning for the next court hearing to discuss all those lovely (possible) damages.