Van Halen Accuses Drummer’s Ex-Wife of Trademark Infringement

Our NYC and Miami Entertainment Law Firm advises and represents clients in all legal matters related to music, sports, television/film, visual and literary works, modeling, online matters, and intellectual property.

Names are important for any kind of business, but in Florida’s entertainment business, a person’s name can be everything. People’s personal names can sometimes carry the weight of what marketers call a “brand,” or carry the legal protections of a registered trademark. At the same time, names are just names. Sometimes two people have the same name, and there’s not much that can be done to clear up any confusion.

Recently, a company affiliated with the rock band Van Halen filed a lawsuit against the ex-wife of drummer Alex Van Halen, alleging that her use of the name Kelly Van Halen in her construction and interior design company infringes its rights in the trademark “Van Halen,” and is likely to confuse consumers.

The band name Van Halen, of course, comes from the family name of brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen. Alex married Kelly Carter in 1984, and she took his last name. The couple divorced in 1996. The lawsuit alleges that Kelly Van Halen filed applications to register the trademark “Kelly Van Halen” for use with interior design and construction services and products such as blankets and chairs. Lawyers for ELVH, the holding company that controls intellectual property for the rock band, claim that Kelly’s use of the trademark is confusingly similar to their trademarks.

The case tests some of the limits of entertainment law, raising important issues of intellectual property and personality rights. For example, a famous female athlete may have a lucrative source of income in licensing and merchandising deals with sportswear companies. If others use her name on their products or services without her permission, and without paying a licensing fee, it could infringe upon her rights of personality. Such an unlicensed use could give a misleading impression that she endorsed the products. Trademarks work differently, following laws of intellectual property, but when a trademark overlaps with a person’s name, it can lead to some messy legal complications.

When people and businesses in Florida’s entertainment industry run into this type of dispute, it’s important that they find legal help from professionals who understand the issues at work in entertainment law. Entertainment can be just for fun, but behind the scenes it is serious business.

Source: Hollywood Reporter, “Van Halen Sues Drummer’s Ex-Wife for Using Famous Last Name,” Eriq Gardner, Oct. 16, 2013

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The entertainment industry can be a complicated field to navigate. As a trusted leader in Miami entertainment law, ChaseLawyers can help. With over 40 years of experience, Our Miami based lawyers have helped individuals in nearly every area of entertainment law in Miami, including sports, music, film, television, modeling, literature, and more. We understand the unique challenges you face as a creative, and we’re prepared to protect your interests.

As an artist in Miami, you must navigate the intricacies of copyright law, trademarks, contractual agreements, and much more. It is critical you choose a qualified Miami entertainment lawyer with expertise in the nuances of the entertainment world. ChaseLawyers has built a stellar reputation among our clientele for honest, professional representation that produces effective results. We have extensive experience in the unique legal elements you must navigate as an artist, and our attorneys can provide you with indispensable career advice and expertise over the course of your entertainment career.

When you work with ChaseLawyers, you are more than just a client. We care about your well-being and can provide essential advice on the issues you face in the Miami market, such as intellectual property issues, negotiating service agreements, publicity rights, and much more. We also have an extensive network of resources available for our clients to connect with, and those connections can enrich your career in countless ways. Our team understands the complex world of entertainment law and will take care of your legal needs so you can focus on doing what you do best—sharing your talent with the world!

When you’re ready to take the next step in your career, our Miami entertainment lawyers are ready to help you. We are passionate about helping creatives with all of their legal needs, and you won’t find a team more dedicated to your success in all of Miami. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!