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Seattle Band Name Dispute: The Wailers (Washington) vs. The Wailers (Jamaica)

We have a juicy-sounding band name dispute right here in Seattle: members of the historic Washington band called “The Wailers” brought suit in the Western District June 20 against Bob Marley’s historic band of the same name. The complaint states that plaintiffs John M. “Buck” Ormsby and Kent E. Morrill have been performing as “The Wailers” (Washington) since 1959. Plaintiffs allege they obtained federal registrations for the WAILERS service mark in January 2003, which they say Aston “Family Man” Barrett and the other members of “The Wailers” (Jamaica) have infringed and diluted.

According to the complaint: “The Wailers have influenced the musical careers of bands such as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Sonics, the Rolling Stones, and Paul Revere and The Raiders. Most notably, The Wailers’ performance of the song ‘Louie Louie’ inspired The Kingsmen of Portland Oregon to record the same song.”

The Wailers (Washington) in 1960s
Photo credit: Pacific Northwest Bands

The complaint states defendants’ original group was formed in Jamaica in 1963 by Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer. It alleges: “On or about 1974, the original group broke up, and Defendant Barrett and Bob Marley formed the musical group Bob Marley and the Wailers. Following the death of Bob Marley in 1981, The Wailers, including defendant Barrett, continued to stage live musical performances as a group, initially as The Bob Marley Wailers, and eventually simply The Wailers. This musical group has continued to stage live musical performances as The Wailers to the present day.”

The Wailers (Jamaica)

“The Wailers” (Washington) claim “The Wailers” (Jamaica)’s use of the same mark is likely to cause confusion and to dilute plaintiffs’ famous mark. “The Wailers” (Washington) also claim “The Wailers” (Jamaica) have wrongfully obtained the registration for wailers.com and have used the domain name to market, promote, and sell the entertainment services of “The Wailers” (Jamaica), causing confusion in the industry and among the general public.

“The Wailers” (Jamaica) have not yet answered the complaint.

The case cite is Ormsby v. Barrett, No. 07-5305 (W.D. Wash.)

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