Variety loses to punk band in album cover dispute

Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:37pm EDT
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By Eriq Gardner

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Hollywood trade newspaper Variety has lost in its attempt to pursue a trademark claim in Delaware against the punk band The Vandals.

The case will now move to a California federal court, since Vandals bassist and lawyer Joe Escalante, who is representing the band in the lawsuit, is based in Los Angeles.

First, some background on the case:

In 2004, the Vandals released their 10th album, "Hollywood Potato Chip," which posed the band's name in lettering on the cover quite similar to the trademarked Variety logo.

Reed Elsevier, Variety's parent company, sent a cease-and-desist letter and worked out a settlement with the band, which agreed to change the cover art. The agreement stipulated that band members would have to pay $50,000 plus attorneys fees if the group ever reneged.

Last year, Reed sued the band for breach of contract, claiming the offending image had popped up on the website for the band and its label Kung Fu Records. The band claimed it wasn't behind the breaches.

Defending the matter for the Vandals was Escalante himself, a Loyola Law School alum who worked in business affairs at CBS before pursuing music. He also hosts a radio show called "Barely Legal Radio," which covers entertainment legal matters. Escalante's first task was to get the case transferred from Delaware to the more convenient jurisdiction in Los Angeles. Variety opposed this attempt, claiming the original agreement contained a clause naming Delaware as the forum for litigating disputes arising from the agreement.

Round 1 goes to Escalante.   Continued...