Lady A (The Band) Sues Lady A (The Singer) Over Name
Country trio Lady A, formerly known as Lady Antebellum, is suing blues singer Anita White, who has performed as Lady A for more than 20 years.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Nashville’s U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, alleges White is trying to “enforce purported trademarks rights in a mark that Plaintiffs have held for more than a decade.”
It claims White’s lawyers made “an exorbitant monetary demand.” The band does not seek any monetary award but wants a judge to declare that it can use the Lady A name.
According to the filing, the group – which consists of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and David Haywood – has used the Lady A nickname since at least 2006 and successfully registered it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2011.
White, they allege, only objected to their use of the name when Lady Antebellum announced in June that it was officially rebranding as Lady A. (“Antebellum" comes from the Latin phrase "before the war" and is closely associated with the period in U.S. history leading up to the Civil War, when slavery was common.)
“Prior to 2020, White did not challenge, in any way, Plaintiffs’ open, obvious, and widespread nationwide and international use of the LADY A mark as a source indicator for Plaintiffs’ recorded, downloadable, and streaming music and videos, Plaintiffs’ live musical performances, or Plaintiffs’ sale of souvenir merchandise,” reads the lawsuit.
Shortly after rebranding as Lady A, the group said they had met with White. “Today, we connected privately with the artist Lady A,” they shared in an Instagram post. “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.”
In subsequent interviews, White said she did not trust Lady A. On July 7, her lawyer allegedly proposed a settlement that included $10 million U.S. for his client.
“Paired with White’s public statements, White’s demand for an exorbitant payment in exchange for continued coexistence, notwithstanding the previous absence of discussion of any payment (other than reimbursement of nominal attorneys’ fees), gives rise to imminent controversy, demonstrating a course of action from which a threat of suit could be inferred based on White’s charge of infringement,” the lawsuit states.
There has been no comment from White or her reps.
Lady A issued a statement on Wednesday about the situation.
“Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended … When we learned that Ms. White had also been performing under the name Lady A, we had heartfelt discussions with her about how we can all come together and make something special and beautiful out of this moment. 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.
“We're disappointed that we won’t be able to work together with Anita for that greater purpose … 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.”
Listen to music from Lady A