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The Commodores win their trademark infringement case

Nothing lasts forever, as the band The Commodores has found out. They had some huge hits in the 1970's and 1980's. However, the band has since fallen apart and now various members have begun suing each other over the rights to their name.

The case that was recently settled, decades after the band's heyday, involves Thomas McClary. He was one of the original members of the group, though he hasn't been with The Commodores since 1984.

The band originally had six people in it, and they agreed in 1978 that anyone who opted to leave the group could no longer use the name. They doubled down on this in 1982, when Lionel Richie decided to quit. They didn't care if artists wanted to join other bands or do solo work, but the name "The Commodores" had to stay exclusively with those who were still in the group.

At this point, most members of the group are gone, with just William King and Walter Orange remaining. McClary has been doing solo work. To protect themselves further, Orange and King started a company called Commodores Entertainment Corporation, which now holds the rights to the trademarked name.

However, McClary was doing marketing for his solo project, and he used the name. The company sued him for trademark infringement and false advertisement. He appealed, but the case seems pretty straightforward. A judge determined that he chose to leave and so he gave up his rights, just as Richie and the other members did.

Cases like this can grow emotional when multiple people have a connection to a certain brand or artistic creation, but it's very important to know what legal rights everyone holds and how intellectual property is owned.

Source: IP Watchdog, "The Commodores Trademark Lawsuit and its Effect on IP in Entertainment," Amanda G. Ciccatelli, accessed Feb. 22, 2018

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