Anita White, the Seattle-based blues singer who goes by the stage name Lady A, is counter suing the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum in an attempt to block them from using the name.
On Tuesday, White filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle, arguing that she has common law rights to the moniker Lady A since she's been using it for decades, according to documents obtained by the Seattle Times.
In the complaint, White's legal team claims that her "Lady A" brand "has been usurped and set on a path to erasure."
Back in June, the prominent country group — which consists of band members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood — announced that they would officially change their name to Lady A, after renewed scrutiny of "Antebellum" showed it evoked a painful time in U.S. history.
Days later, the group shared on Instagram that they "connected privately" with White after learning how she has been using the name Lady A for decades. When agreements fell through, the "Need You Now" band filed a lawsuit against White in July after she reportedly asked for $10 million.
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Today, we connected privately with the artist Lady A. Transparent, honest, and authentic conversations were had. We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground. The hurt is turning into hope. More to come. #LadyABluesSoulFunkGospelArtist #TheTruthIsLoud @ladya_bluesdiva @dexter_allen_entertainment @oliveriiijohn
The band's counsel said in the filing at Nashville’s U.S. District Court that the group has used Lady A interchangeably with Lady Antebellum as early as 2006 and applied to register Lady A for entertainment purposes — including live musical performances and streaming musical programming — at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2010.
The band later applied to register the name Lady A for musical recordings and clothing, according to the suit, and their applications were all granted without opposition from any person or entity.
The band said in a July statement, in part: "We never even entertained the idea that she shouldn’t also be able to use the name Lady A, and never will — today’s action doesn’t change that. Instead, we shared our stories, listened to each other, prayed and spent hours on the phone and text writing a song about this experience together. We felt we had been brought together for a reason and saw this as living out the calling that brought us to make this change in the first place."
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"We're disappointed that we won’t be able to work together with Anita for that greater purpose. We’re still committed to educating ourselves, our children and doing our part to fight for the racial justice so desperately needed in our country and around the world," they added at the time.
"We’ve only taken the first small steps and will prioritize racial equality as a key pillar of the work of LadyAID, specifically leaning into supporting and empowering our youth. We hope Anita and the advisers she is now listening to will change their minds about their approach. We can do so much more together than in this dispute."
The band is not asking for money, according to their suit, but seeking a court declaration that they are lawfully using the Lady A trademark and that the continued usage of the name does not infringe on any trademark rights White may legally hold or her "non-trademark use of 'Lady A' to identify herself as a musical performer."
Reacting to the lawsuit in July, White told Rolling Stone that she began losing visibility after the band officially shortened their name to Lady A.
"They want to change the narrative by minimizing my voice, by belittling me and by not telling the entire truth," White said at the time. "I don't think of myself as a victim, but I've worked too long and too hard to just walk away and say I'll share the name with them. They want to appropriate something I used for decades. Just because I don't have 40 million fans or $40 million, that should not matter."
White continued on to say that she was going to split the $10 million, half going to a rebrand for herself and half going to charity. "I could help my community, I could help my church, I can help other artists," she explained. "And that other $5 million was supposed to go to Black Lives Matter to help other artists with this very struggle. And it was for my seniors and youth."
White also told Rolling Stone that she believed the group's conversations with her were one-sided and that she "didn't think coexistence would work."
"When they talked about how talks broke down, they never talked outside of trying to get me to do what they wanted me to do, which is coexist, and that’s something I never wanted," she said. "I stand by that. I've said it so many times."
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