A Wollongong band is laughing in the face of a threatened $2 million lawsuit, after a multinational restaurant chain with a near-identical name cried copyright infringement.
Ruby Tuesdays is a penniless five-piece rock/funk fusion band that has filmed its music videos at Bombo Quarry and on the roof of Wollongong’s Humber Bar.
It is not to be confused with Ruby Tuesday, a chain of 540 “American cuisine” restaurants headquartered in Maryville, Tennessee, with total assets reportedly worth $929 million.
Since forming late last year, the band has focused its efforts on building its name, ploughing $12,000 into gigs and merchandise for a return, so far, of about $1000.
But now the franchise behemoth has come calling, demanding the band surrender its name and destroy all its merchandise, citing international copyright law.
Guitarist Shaun Snider received a notice of infringement from the San Diego-based law firm Mintz Levin last month, calling on the band to transfer its web domain to “our client” and “compensate Ruby Tuesday for past sales”.
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“While many artists pay tribute to other artists through imitation, when it comes to imitating famous trademarks, only Ruby Tuesday is entitled to the goodwill of its mark,” the letter read.
“In fact, the knowing adoption of a mark intending to play off a well-established mark is among the most egregious of trademark violations, warranting courts to apply the harshest of consequences.”
Mr Snider, a 33-year-old high school teacher at Wollongong Flexible Learning Centre, said the band had since taken legal advice and had responded to the notice, refusing to surrender its name.
“The nature of trademark is that you’re trying to sell something similar under the guise that it’s [the same thing],” he told the Mercury.
“It’s ridiculous that someone would rock up to a gig in Wollongong under the guise that they were going to get a burger. That’s what they’re trying to sue us over. It’s just that silly.
“They’re trying to sue us for all this money, but we’re an originals band. It really is a passion project. A lot of it has been about getting our name out there in the short time we’ve been going. So really, to take that off us would be like, ‘control, alt, delete’ – starting all over again.”
With the ball now in Ruby Tuesday’s court, Ruby Tuesdays is capitalising.
Sales of the band’s merchandise spiked Sunday night after they were interviewed on Network Ten’s The Project.
The band has also timed the release of its latest single, Wooden Moon, to coincide with the brouhaha.
“People have brought shirts from all over Australia,” said Mr Snider.
“We’re very grateful for the support we’ve received in the last 24 hours.”
Both Ruby Tuesday and Ruby Tuesdays say they took their name from the Rolling Stones song, with the band having once penned a song – Ruby Tuesday Blues – full of references to the original.