Commodores’ Award for Former Member’s Trademark Use Affirmed

Written July 27, 2020

The Commodores, the American soul and funk band, is entitled to damages for both the US and European misuse of its trademarks by former member Thomas McClary, the Eleventh Circuit said on July 23, 2020. Commodores Entm’t Corp. v. Fifth Avenue Entm’t, 11th Cir., No. 19-10791, unpublished 7/23/20.

McClary was an original member of the group, but left in 1984. He later formed his own group, which performed as “The 2014 Commodores”. The original Commodores, as Commodores Entertainment Corp. (CEC), sued McClary in Florida in 2014, bringing trademark infringement and other claims.

The District Court barred McClary from using the name permanently, and a jury awarded CEC damages based on McClary’s use of the name at one US show and five European shows.

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, refuting McClary’s argument that CEC didn’t raise the European shows in its complaint, because McClary had “long been on notice” of his potential liability.

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