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Black Flag’s Greg Ginn loses injunction against FLAG, Henry Rollins

on October 11, 2013, 4:58pm

fake FLAG logo

Greg Ginn is not a happy punk rocker this morning: A judge has denied Ginn’s a preliminary injunction against former Black Flag bandmates Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, Chuck Dukowski, and Bill Stevenson, who’ve reunited under the FLAG banner, as well as Henry Rollins.

In August, Ginn sued FLAG and Rollins, claiming he and his label, SST Records, exclusively own the rights to the Black Flag name and logo (and “Flag” variation). He accused Morris and Rollins of “lying to the Trademark Office on registrations; using his own label’s record covers to feign as though they’ve been continuing to use Black Flag since 1979, and in an what’s alleged to be an act of ‘outrageous fraud,’ using bootleg SST t-shirts in an attempt to show they’ve been making such products in that time.” The suit said FLAG’s name and logo were “a colorable imitation” that was “likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception among consumers” and detract from Ginn’s own Black Flag reunion.

Judge Dean Pregerson of California’s Central District Court disagreed, however. According to Rolling Stone, Judge Pregerson denied Ginn’s motion for a preliminary injunction, citing Ginn’s inability to sufficiency prove that he owned Black Flag’s name or logo. The FLAG members argued that the name and logo had fallen into “generic use,” noting that unlicensed band merchandise has been on the market for several years. They also pointed out Ginn’s lack of action against a Japanese company that registered the band’s name in 2008.

Judge Pregerson also disagreed with Ginn’s argument that two simultaneous Black Flag reunions would cause confusion for fans, noting that FLAG’s marketing posters specifically bore a disclaimer explaining that its lineup consisted of former members, and that his lawsuit had generated enough media coverage to limit confusion for fans.

Lastly, Judge Pregerson said that because the group had filed its taxes under the name Black Flag Partnership, no one party maintains sole ownership over the band’s trademark, but rather it falls under a statutory partnership comprised of various band members. And interesting enough, because Ginn has no evidence to prove Rollins ever formally quit the band, Rollins remains a member of that partnership.

The ruling allows FLAG to continue touring and performing under their own name. Update: An earlier version of this story reported that the judge ruled on the lawsuit in addition to the lawsuit, which was incorrect.

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