Black Flag Founder Greg Ginn Suing FLAG Over Infringement + Name Confusion
Well, this news shouldn't shock anyone. Two different versions of Black Flag, one of punk's most important bands, are touring this year as Black Flag and FLAG, creating some confusion among fans and leading to a lawsuit between the two acts. Who's in Black Flag? Who's in FLAG? What will they play? This situation certainly requires some sifting of facts and isn't as simple as going to see a band you love in concert.
Black Flag, fronted by founding member and guitarist Gregg Ginn, and FLAG, featuring ex-bandmates Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, Chuck Dukowski and Bill Stevenson, are touring. Ginn is taking it to the courts, saying that he and SST Records are exclusive owners of the rights to the Black Flag name and any variation thereof, like "FLAG." They also claim ownership of the band's logo, which is a visual marker.
Ginn launched the suit last week, according to the Hollywood Reporter, seeking an injunction against the FLAG tour, which kicked off in May and runs through the end of the month. He is accusing his former bandmates of infringement by using the name FLAG and the logo, claiming that it's "likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception among consumers."
The guitarist also alleges that Henry Garfield (aka Henry Rollins, who is not performing with FLAG) and Morris lied to the Trademark Office on registrations by using his own label's record as proof that they've been operating as Black Flag since 1979. They also used bootleg SST tees in effort to proof that that they've been producing merch, as well. In Ginn's suit, that constitutes fraud.
This is a sticky mess, one that's best left to the courts and legal types to sort out. Another statement was posted on Black Flag's official Facebook page this morning (Aug. 5), as well.
It read as follows:
Statement Regarding Dispute:
The dispute over Black Flag is not motivated by an effort to stop anyone from covering Black Flag songs. Quite to the contrary. Henry Garfield (Rollins) and Keith Morris made an effort to hijack the name for their own use. Behind everyone's back Garfield and Morris last year filed a fraudulent trademark application in which they are claiming to own the name. Had we not taken action, this pair could have snuck this false application through enabling them to stop Black Flag from playing and use of the name for themselves.