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Earth, Wind & Fire Sues 'Legacy Reunion' Band for Trademark Infringement
Rights holders for legendary band Earth, Wind & Fire have filed a lawsuit against a rival legacy group using their trademark.
Earth, Wind & Fire are suing a competing 'legacy reunion' act using their trademark. On Wednesday (March 8), Rolling Stone reported that Earth Wind & Fire IP, LLC — the rights holder of the band’s trademarks following the 2016 death of founder and lead EWF vocalist Maurice White – filed a lawsuit against Substantial Music Group and Stellar Communications in a Miami U.S. District Court at the beginning of the week. EWF claims that the legacy act is being advertised as the actual group, not a cover band.
“Beginning in about 2019, Defendants hired a few musicians who previously had played with the [group] as side musicians for brief periods up to three decades previously, along with other musicians who had never played with [the group] to perform songs that the real Earth, Wind & Fire made famous,” the lawsuit reads.
“To increase ticket sales to these concerts, Defendants hatched a scheme to falsely imply in advertising that this new group was the real Earth, Wind & Fire. Defendants did this to benefit from the commercial magnetism and immense goodwill the public has for Plaintiff’s ‘Earth, Wind & Fire’ marks and logos, thereby misleading consumers and selling more tickets at higher prices to shows Defendants promote than would be sold if Defendants honestly advertised who was rendering these performances.”
While the actual EWF are co-headlining an upcoming tour with Lionel Richie, Substantial Music Group writes that the legacy act is composed of "former members" of the original band, also using their signature “Phoenix” logo, Egyptian iconography and photos of the long-running outfit.
“Get swept up in the musical whirlwind & re-live the glory days under the Maurice White-led era of EWF as Legacy Reunion reunites former members of the EWF family to continue the tradition now Spanning 5 decades,” an advertisement for the EWF Legacy Reunion reads.
The advertising has clearly mislead fans, as the 41-page lawsuit includes complaints from fans, one writing, "This was not Earth Wind and Fire. NO Philip Bailey or Verdine White."
Richard Smith, founder of Substantial Music Group, has since called the lawsuit "disappointing news to us."
“We’re proud to be alumni of the musical group... and will successfully defend against this greedy corporate attempt to erase us," he told RS. "In the meantime, we’ll continue doing what we love, making music and entertaining people.”