WITH CALLOUS DISREGARD
by Marty Thau, [March 30, 2002]
a little story about how hypocritical a major corporation can be.
I founded Red Star Records, an indie label
designed to present new rock 'n' roll music, and released my first two
records -- Suicide's classic debut and Boston's Real Kids LP. Both
were well received and set the stage for further releases by groups like
the Fleshtones, the New York Dolls, Martin Rev, Richard Hell & The
Voidoids, plus a number of compilations that included performances by the
Ramones, Blondie, and Brian Setzer.
years I reissued these same LPs internationally many times and still do
to this day, because they're always in demand.
words, my name "Red Star Records" has been in continuous use since 1977.
October (2001) the Heineken USA Company struck up a deal with Epic Records
to release a record on their own Red Star Records label called Red
Star Sounds Volume 1: Soul Searchin'. It's a very good
record indeed -- neo-R & B songs by artists like Eryka Badu, Jill Scott,
Macy Gray, Nellie Fertado and India.Arie, among others.
Heineken is using my company name as their own, without consideration or
my lawyer and sent Epic and Heineken a cease-and-desist notice claiming
they were violating my rights. Heineken's highly-paid Washington
Trademark attorney informed us they had conducted a search of the trademark
files to see if Red Star Records was available for usage, and did not maliciously
intend to wrongfully violate my rights, but since I hadn't trademarked
Red Star Records back in '77 they assumed it was free and clear.
so here's where it gets down and dirty. Months passed. Silence. When I continued to object to Heineken’s usage of my trade name, they informed
me that their intention regarding the release of "Red Star" records was
to benefit urban musicians, and therefore, I should respect their noble
gesture and go along with the program. (Translation: "Let's sell
more beer to blacks.")
what is called Common Law Rights, and knew I could (and will) overturn
their Trademark Application and be a total nuisance, but instead I wanted
to settle this issue amicably. I proposed they use the name "Heineken's
Red Sounds" instead, and only release one or two urban CDs per year with
the proper acknowledgment on all CD packages that their Heineken Red Star
entity was a nonprofit organization.
not suit them because their music marketing plans include a 60-city tour
of alternative rock artists this coming summer under the Red Star name
that has nothing to do with benefiting "urban" musicians and everything
to do with selling beer. Clever marketers trying to look righteous. As Yogi once said ... "It ain't over 'til it's over."
line: In the end, they basically told me what to do with myself -- of course,
in much more polite terms as they accused me of being impolite and presumptuous
for pursuing my rights. I guess I'm just a little guy and don't deserve
consideration, and since they're a major corporation they can step all
over me and rewrite history at the same time. All to sell more beer.
So as to avoid prosecution under the USA Patriot Act, I hereby advise all
interested parties that my announced intention to be a nuisance to Heineken
USA should be interpreted as verbal criticism only, and not as a personal
threat against any of its employees -- although I can think of a few lawyers
who deserve, and would probably love, to be spanked.
ever try Samuel Adams beer? It's a very tasty drink.
Copyright © 2002 by Marty Thau
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