Truth In NJ

Truth in Music legislation continues to echo in New Jersey, where multiple lawsuits are making waves around groups that perform under the names of famous acts yet don’t feature any original members.

A federal appeals court judge recently ruled that the New Jersey Attorney General’s office must pay legal fees for two groups it took to court over what the office considered violations of the act.

Neither of the groups, which were performing under the names of The Platters and the Cornell Gunter Coasters, respectively, featured any original members or held a registered trademark to the names.

The AG’s office took action, seeking to force the groups to bill themselves as tribute acts.

However, the promoter for the groups – Live Gold – had an ace up its sleeve, holding an unregistered trademark for the names, which the appeals court judge ruled held the same rights as a registered mark.

Elsewhere in New Jersey, a court battle is ongoing between the estate of an original member of The Duprees and an act that has been using the group’s name.

Michael Arnone, a founding member of The Duprees who died in 2005, held the trademark to the name and managed a group of new members under the moniker for several years, according to court documents obtained by the Star-Ledger.

The new members reportedly alleged in court that when Arnone was hit with a more than $60,000 tax liability for failing to withhold taxes for the group, he gave up control of the name but continued to receive money from performances.

“We’re not saying to the world Michael Arnone walked away and had nothing to do with the group, just that he ceded control and can’t enforce the mark anymore,” an attorney for the group told the Star-Ledger.

Though a settlement was discussed, it appears talks have stalled as Arnone’s estate is putting together a group of its own to tour as The Duprees, the paper reported.

Another act back on the road following a change of hands in trademark ownership is Jay & The Americans, which is touring with reunited as well as new members.

When lead singer Jay Black was ordered to sell the rights to the group’s name in a 2006 bankruptcy case, former member Sandy Yaguda and one non-member of the band bid on the trademark.

The non-member of the band, John Reincke, was blocked from purchasing the rights to the name because of Truth in Music legislation, but became a member of the group after Yaguda contacted him to sing lead, the Courier-Post reported.