Country music superstar group Lady Antebellum announced recently that they will change the name of the group to “Lady A”. The country trio announced the name change in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. After realizing “Antebellum” had associations with slavery, they decided to change the name of the group to “Lady A”.
“When we set out together almost 14 years ago, we named our band after the southern ‘antebellum’ style home where we took our first photos. As musicians, it reminded us of all the music born in the south that influenced us…southern rock, blues, R&B, gospel and of course country,” the band said. “But we are regretful and embarrassed to say that we did not take into account the associations that weigh down this word referring to the period of history before the civil war, which includes slavery. We are deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused and for anyone who has felt unsafe, unseen or unvalued.”
After the announcement of the name change, Anita White, a blues singer from Seattle who goes by the moniker Lady A, voiced her concerns to Rolling Stone. She stated, “This is my life. Lady A is my brand, I’ve used it for over 20 years, and I’m proud of what I’ve done. They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time. If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before.”
Lady A Trademark Registration
The band formed in 2006. Country music fans know the band as both lady Antebellum and the nickname Lady A. They secured a U.S. Trademark Registration for Lady A in 2011, claiming a first use in commerce date of 2008. The trademark registration is for entertainment services including live and recorded audio and video musical performances, personal appearances, film clips, photographs, and other multimedia materials in musical entertainment.
From a trademark standpoint, assuming the blues singer used the name Lady A for over 20 years as claimed, even though the band secured a trademark registration to the name, they cannot stop a senior user from using the name. While the names are phonetically and grammatically the same, there are several factors weighing against a likelihood of confusion. For example, factors supporting no likelihood of confusion include differences in music genre, differences in fan base, and the fact that both parties used the name in commerce for at least 12 years without any actual cases of confusion.
After learning of the blues singer, the band reached out to her personally and apologized. It seems that an agreement was reached where each party will go forward continuing to use the name Lady A. Glad to see this story reach an amicable solution.