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  • "Variety" Vs. The Vandals

    Mon, 13 Sep 2010 13:19:10

    "Variety" Vs. The Vandals - Hollywood trade paper is suing punk band over their logo

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    Hollywood trade publication Daily Variety is currently battling with California punk band The Vandals over the band usage of the magazine's logo on the cover of their album Hollywood Potato Chip. The Vandals' bassist is a lawyer, so expect the band to put up a fight and to not go gently into that good night.

    The cover of Hollywood Potato Chip included the band's name in lettering made to look like the trademarked Daily Variety logo. Reed Elsevier, Variety's parent company, sent a cease and desist letter and ultimately worked out a settlement with the band, which agreed to change the cover art and stop using the logo and lettering; part of the settlement included the agreement that if the band members breached the deal, they agree to pay $50,000 plus attorneys fees.

    Well, it appears as if the band breached the contract, since in April of this year, Reed sued the band for breach of contract in federal court in Delaware, claiming the offending image had reappeared on a website for the band and its label Kung Fu Records.

    Reed's team of lawyers are arguing that the breach of the settlement agreement is clear-cut. The band claims it wasn't behind any errant images that may have popped up online and that Reed never provided an opportunity to "cure" any breaches. Essentially, the band is saying that they didn't post the image and therefore they are not at fault and did not breach the contract.

    Rather than pay a lawyer to fight Reed, bassist Joe Escalante is handling the matter himself. He actually worked in business affairs at CBS before pursuing music. He still does pro bono work and became somewhat of a local celebrity hosting "Barely Legal Radio," a radio show devoted to entertainment law questions, according to our friends at Billboard.

    "I'm spending ridiculous amounts of hours on this," Escalante said. "Like four to 10 hours a day. It's a nightmare, but I'm learning how to do litigation. I hired a guy to teach me how to do it in Delaware."

    Escalante believes Reed filed the case in Delaware just to force the band to spend money fighting in a far-flung state. So Escalante got himself admitted to practice in Delaware and filed papers to try to transfer the case to Los Angeles. Reed is vigorously opposing the effort. The band has posted all the court documents on its website and will hold a fundraiser concert to raise money to fight the case on Friday. The law is a bitch, isn't it?

    "While we don't expect the Vandals to see the issues through our eyes, the publicity they have generated and continue to generate contains inaccuracies, out-of-context statements and false innuendo," Reed's lawyer said. "This is a breach of contract suit based on materials and links posted on the Vandals' websites. We look forward to a court deciding these issues."

    Team The Vandals or Team Reed/Variety?

    —Amy Sciarretto

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