The suit is in response to an earlier filing the band — formerly known as Lady Antebellum — made against White declaring their trademark rights to the name Lady A.

By Maureen Lee Lenker
September 16, 2020 at 06:09 PM EDT
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Courtesy Lady A

The legal battle between the band Lady A and the blues singer Lady A is far from over.

On Tuesday, Anita White, a blues singer who uses the moniker Lady A, filed a countersuit against country group Lady A, formerly known as Lady Antebellum. The suit, which EW has reviewed, is in response to a July 8 filing the band made against White declaring their trademark rights to the name Lady A and asking for White to drop her demands for $10 million and co-exist peacefully.

White's countersuit, which she filed in the U.S. District Court’s Western District of Washington against band members Charles Kelley, David Haywood, and Hillary Scott alongside Lady A Entertainment, LLC, claims that she has "accrued common law rights in the LADY A trademark." Her suit outlines her use of the name since at least the early '90s in connection with music and entertainment services, which she claims grant her "superior common law trademark rights, which precede the existence of Defendants’ band, let alone their alleged LADY A mark."

Because the two names are identical, White's suit claims that peaceful co-existence is not possible because it is trademark infringement. Furthermore, she attests that the band's use of the name immediately began to overshadow and diminish her music in internet and social media searches. "Ms. White’s LADY A brand had been usurped and set on the path to erasure," the suit states.

She further claims that Lady A's use of the moniker has resulted in "lost sales, diminished brand identity, and diminution in the value of and goodwill associated with the mark."

In addition to requesting they cease using the Lady A name, White's suit seeks compensatory damages and royalty fees for any music sold under the Lady A name.

All of this comes in response to a July 8 suit filed by band members Kelley, Haywood, and Scott seeking reaffirmation of their ownership of the Lady A trademark. The suit didn't ask for White to cease using the name Lady A, or for any monetary damages. "Plaintiffs simply wish that the parties continue to coexist," it said.

Representatives for the band did not immediately respond to request for comment on the new suit.

This dispute has been ongoing since June when the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum declared their intentions to permanently go by the shortened name Lady A in response to the death of George Floyd and widespread protests for social justice. They explained their desire to dissociate themselves from the history of slavery by permanently changing their name from Lady Antebellum to Lady A, a nickname they'd previously used on merchandise, their website, and more.

The announcement prompted an outcry from White, a Black artist based in Seattle who had been using the stage name Lady A since the 1980s. "They're using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time," White told Rolling Stone. "If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before."

Days later, however, a swift reconciliation appeared possible as both parties shared an Instagram post with an image of a mutual video chat that said they were working together and "the hurt was turning into hope." However, as White states in the suit, she never agreed to the terms outlined in that Instagram post and negotiations between both Lady A's quickly turned sour, leading to this spate of lawsuits.

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