Black Flag founder Greg Ginn has been in the business of alienating old SST Records associates for a while — “No one from SST’s glory days seems to have a good word to say about founder Greg Ginn,” noted this 2008 Guardian piece — and he’s spurned lots of former Black Flag fans with projects like the noodly, Grateful-Dead-inspired Jambang. So why not go for the trifecta and cross his former Black Flag bandmates by bringing legal action against them? As we reported earlier this year, Ginn sued FLAG, the band comprising former Black Flag members Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, Chuck Dukowski, and Bill Stevenson, as well as Henry Rollins in U.S. District Court, accusing them of using Black Flag’s name and logo for profit without authorization and creating confusion with Ginn’s own reunited version of Black Flag. The ruling is in, and Ginn lost big-time.
As Spin reports, a judge ruled that neither Ginn nor SST holds any special rights to Black Flag’s trademarks and that fans are smart enough to differentiate between the projects. The court also ruled that Rollins never quit Black Flag, so there’s that.
FLAG’s camp released the results of the ruling in legal language:
(1) the court found that SST had no rights in the trademarks;
(2) Ginn seemed to have no individual rights in the Black Flag trademarks;
(3) even if either had had any rights in those marks, they had abandoned those rights through a failure to police the mark for nearly 30 years;
(4) the defendants’ claim that the Black Flag assets were owned by a statutory partnership comprised of various former band members – even if these members only consisted of Henry and Ginn, based on (a) accepting Ginn’s argument that he never quit and given that there is no evidence or allegation that Henry ever quit – has merit;
(5) that even if the plaintiffs had some trademark claim in the marks, there was no likelihood of consumer confusion between Black Flag and Flag given the ample press coverage over the dispute; and
(6) the trademark application and registration that Henry and Keith made was done in good faith (e.g. not fraudulently) – and is thus not necessarily subject to cancellation – given that they understood their actions to have been done on the part of the Black Flag partnership (see No. 4, above).
So, bad day to be Greg Ginn.