News broke last night that a jury shot down a lawsuit Black Flag’s Greg Ginn brought against the world’s greatest Black Flag cover band, FLAG, which is comprised entirely of former Black Flag members.
Ginn alleged that FLAG frontman Keith Morris and Black Flag’s most famous former singer Henry Rollins filed bogus claims to the Black Flag trademark. Ginn was also mad ‘cause FLAG T-shirts look like Black Flag T-shirts. His lawyer claimed that he isn’t upset about FLAG playing Black Flag songs, thereby stealing the thunder from his own rebooted version of Black Flag. But he secretly is. I can just tell.
I’m no lawyer, but if I’m to summarize SPIN’s account of the decision: The jury said that if Ginn was planning on getting all pissy about trademarks, he should’ve filed the necessary paper work sometime before, like, friggin’ 1980.
The official word —
(1) the court found that SST [seminal DIY label Ginn still owns] 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).
This is great news for FLAG, which also includes stalwart punks Chuck Dukowski, Bill Stevenson, and Dez Cadena. As for Ginn, I’d say he needs to find new lawyers. Shouldn’t it be easy to convince a jury that Henry Rollins doesn’t want to be in Black Flag anymore?