Van Halen Sues Drummer's Ex-Wife For Using Their Name
Posted by Joseph Lee on 10.17.2013
Creating unfair competition...
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Van Halen's property holding company ELVH, Inc., is suing Kelly Van Halen for using that famous last name. The band was named after its family members (guitarist Eddie Van Halen, drummer Alex Van Halen and later, bassist Wolfgang Van Halen replacing Michael Anthony in 2006).
In 1984, Alex married Kelly Carter, and they divorced twelve years later. Almost twenty years after that, she is using her name as part of the title of her construction and interior design company, which the band claims is a trademark infringement.
In 1891, the US Supreme Court said: "A man's name is his own property, and he has the same right to its use and enjoyment as he has to that of any other species of property. If such use be a reasonable, honest, and fair exercise of such right, he is no more liable for the incidental damage he may do a rival in trade than he would be for injury to his neighbor's property by the smoke issuing from his chimney, or for the fall of his neighbor's house by reason of necessary excavations upon his own land."
The issue raised by the lawsuit is if senior family name users Eddie and Alex can permanently keep junior family name users (like Kelly) from using the name commercially. It might depend on if it can be proven that Kelly intended to use the goodwill or reputation of the band for her business.
The lawsuit claims that she filed two trademark applications on "Kelly Van Halen" for products like chairs, children's blankets, bathing suits, building construction, interior design services and more. The band said that the trademark is "confusingly similar to Plaintiff's VAN HALEN Marks in sound, appearance and commercial impression." The goods in apparel and fashion space "are either identical or closely related to the goods sold by Plaintiff," and they claim that Kelly Van Halen is diluting the band's name, passing off her products as theirs and providing unfair competition for Van Halen.