A Wollongong rock band that faced a David-versus-Goliath style lawsuit because it almost shares a name with a US chain of restaurants has emerged victorious.
Rock/funk fusion aficionados Ruby Tuesdays celebrated with a gig at Wollongong’s Howlin’ Wolf whisky bar Wednesday night, after learning the $2 million legal threat had passed.
“I was like, ‘we won! We won!” the band’s guitarist, Shaun Snider, told the Mercury.
“I was in a state of disbelief. Even though we thought they didn’t have a case, they’re still almost a billion dollar company with 500 lawyers and we’re just five guys who got some legal advice.”
Mr Snider received a notice from the San Diego-based law firm Mintz Levin last month, calling on the band to transfer its web domain to “our client” – the Ruby Tuesday restaurant franchise – and “compensate Ruby Tuesday for past sales”.
The lawyers demanded the band surrender its name and destroy all its merchandise, citing international copyright law.
Interest in the stoush spiked after the band’s members appeared on Network Ten’s The Project, these pages, and elsewhere, vowing not to back down.
Many a commentator noted both the band and the restaurant had taken their name from The Rolling Stones’ 1967 hit song.
Mr Snider said the band had been flooded with support from across Australia and beyond.
“People were kind of playing the story as Australia vs Yanks, but the Americans were really offended as well by the actions of Ruby Tuesday,” he said.
A letter from Mintz Levin representative, dated July 16 and viewed by the Mercury, confirms the company has abandoned the legal case.
“As long as nothing on the band's website substantially changes (eg the band does not sell any new merchandise that would infringe our client's rights, for which our client reserves all rights), we are considering this matter closed ...” the letter reads.
“Thank you for your help in reaching a quick, amicable resolution to this matter … In the meantime, we wish the band the best of luck.”
Ruby Tuesdays credits its win to its lawyer (Jessica Latimer, Slater and Gordon), and to self belief.
Though the band’s members appeared at times to make light of the legal threat – playing off the publicity by releasing new music (Wooden Moon, Kill my Muse), egging on t-shirt sales and joking about the pointlessness of suing the penniless - it had them “rattled”, said frontman Paul Keys.
“When I heard [the legal action had ended] I was jumping around the kitchen, on the phone to the other band mates, ecstatic, because potentially everything that I’d built up in this world could have been gone,” he said.
“This is a message to all the Davids out there to stand up for what you believe in.”