The Court granted the band "The Commodores" a preliminary injunction enjoining one of its founding members from performing under the name “The Commodores featuring Thomas McClary” or “The 2014 Commodores.”
First, the Court found that Plaintiff has demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on its trademark infringement claim. Defendant had left the band in 1984. "When members of a band dispute ownership of a mark associated with the band, courts have found that members who remain active and associated with the band have better title to the mark than those who do not." Continuing, "Defendant no longer has a valid claim to ownership over the Marks. Rather, the band members who remained after Defendant left in 1984 have prevailing ownership because they maintained continuity with the group and have been in a position to control the quality of services of the Marks associated with the band name. Defendant has not put forward any evidence to suggest that he maintained quality or control over the Marks associated with The Commodores after he left; rather, it was the other original band members who stayed with the group that continued to control the nature and quality of the Marks, went on to win a Grammy, and further expanded the band’s fan base and recognition." (Internal cit. om.).
The Court also found that there is a likelihood that consumers would confuse the Grammy award winning band, ‘the Commodores,’ with the ‘The Commodores featuring Thomas McClary’ and/or ‘The 2014 Commodores'. Due to the trademark infringement, there was a presumption of irreparable harm, and the Court found the balance of equities in plaintiff's favor.