Legal Battle Between Toots Hibbert’s Estate And His Former Band The Maytals

Toots Hibbert, reggae superstar, dies at 77 | Arts and Culture | Al JazeeraThere is a looming legal battle between the estate of the late Reggae icon Toots Hibbert and members of The Maytals band over the use of ‘The Maytals Band’ name.

The principals of the band were served a cease and desist letter by the law firm, Isaacman, Kaufman, Painter, Lowy and Zucker who are representing “the heirs of Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, a.k.a. ‘Toots and the Maytals’” who are alleging that the band members cannot perform under the Maytals band name for any upcoming gigs or tours.

However, the Maytals band members are digging in their heels for what could be a fierce legal battle.

“We are prepared to fight this to the ends of the earth. If Toots knew about this, forget rolling, he would be standing up in his grave, him wouldn’t roll, him woulda stand up,” an upset Jackie Jackson, veteran guitarist of The Maytals, told DancehallMag.

Toots Hibbert, a Father of Reggae, Is Dead - The New York TimesThe Maytals band, which has been touring for over 52 years, comprises Clifton ‘Jackie’ Jackson, Charles Faquharson, Carl Harvey, Earl Paul Douglas, and Radcliffe Bryan.  The band’s frontman, Toots Hibbert died at the University Hospital of the West Indies on September 11 at age 77.

The group won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album last year, and are known for hit songs such as Bam Bam, Sweet and Dandy, and Pressure Drop.

The cease-and-desist letter stated: “It has come to our attention that you, or persons purporting to be authorized by you, are infringing and/or contemplating the infringement of our clients’ service mark, “Toots and the Maytals” by, inter alia, advertising and offering to provide entertainment services using the mark “The Maytals Band.”

In memoriam: Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert, O.D. (1942 - 2020) - PAN  M 360The letter continued: “Be advised that your use, or threatened use, of said mark is confusingly similar to our clients’ “Toots and the Maytals” mark and is, or will be, an infringement of our clients’ rights in their mark and will cause them irreparable damages including, but not limited to, the denigration and dilution of our clients’ mark and its value and will confuse the public as to the source of said services and the authority under which your entertainment services and related products or services are provided.”

The letter further demanded that the band refrain from using the Maytals Band name.

“Accordingly, our clients hereby demand that you immediately cease and desist your use or contemplated use of any mark confusingly similar to our clients’ mark including, but not limited to, your use or contemplated use of the mark, “The Maytals Band.”

You are further demanded to inform all persons whom you have authorized or purported to authorize to use said mark, including but not limited to, promoters, venue owners, and advertisers who are offering to provide your services or performances to the public utilizing the aforesaid infringing mark or any mark confusingly similar to our clients’ mark,” the letter stated.

toots-the-maytals
Toots and the Maytals

‘LAWSUIT IS FRIVOLOUS’

Jackson said the lawsuit is frivolous and would ultimately fail.

“We are not Toots and the Maytals, we are the Maytals band and they seem to forget that. The Maytals band was registered from 2007 with our name and Frederick’s name on the document at JIPO. We didn’t even know that it can expire and in 2017, we re-registered it again, and we are legal again for another ten years. We have sought legal advice and we are told that this letter has no basis and we have nothing to worry about, but we weren’t worried in the first place,” Jackson said.

Jackson added that Toots Hibbert did an album with The Maytals called Toots Presents The Maytals.

“That shows that Toots himself recognized that the Maytals was a separate entity,” Jackson said.

The letter threatened legal action if the demands of the firm’s clients were not met.

Toots Hibbert, Reggae Legend, Dies at Age 77 | Vanity Fair“Your failure to comply with the demands set forth herein will expose you to substantial liability and damages to our clients for the willful infringement of their rights,” the letter warned.

The letter further demanded that the band members withdraw the application for trademark registration filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in January 2021 forthwith.

“Be advised that our clients have authorized us to vigorously oppose your aforesaid trademark registration application and to use all means necessary to pursue all parties utilizing or participating in the infringement of our clients’ mark,” the letter promised.

LEGAL BATTLES OVER BAND NAMES IN THE PAST

This is not the first time that there has been a legal battle over the name of a Reggae band after a dispute between band members. In 2015, Al Griffiths, son of the legendary Albert Griffiths and the leader of The Gladiators was granted an order by the Supreme Court barring Jeffrey Cabel Stephenson and Cartel Concert, a French booking company from using the name ‘The Gladiators’ for a tour with longstanding band members.

Stephenson eventually overturned that injunction in a court in France as a judge ruled that members of the band were entitled to use the name as they worked with the band for over five decades, and the Gladiators’ tour was allowed to go on. The judge in France also ruled that the members of the Gladiators should be compensated for their years of work with the band.

“How are musicians protected when a lead singer dies? When a lead singer dies, and musicians who have contributed to the compositions and music of the group, should they not be allowed to continue to work, unless you’re going to make them redundant and paid off. If they work, they market and promote and keep the band relevant, then Toots and the Maytals legacy will continue, so what’s the real reason to stop a band from touring?” an industry insider, who requested anonymity, told DancehallMag.

There are several different incarnations and splinter groups of bands such as the Wailers, Black Uhuru, and Heptones.

When Black Uhuru fragmented in 1996, Derrick ‘Ducky’ Simpson left to tour Europe with dub poet Yasus Afari, under the name Black Uhuru, while Carlos and Dennis also toured the US under the same name. A legal battle over the name followed, which was won by Simpson in 1997. Carlos resumed his solo career, while Simpson formed a new line-up of Black Uhuru with Andrew Bees and Jennifer Connally.

Source: Legal Battle Looms Between Toots Hibbert’s Estate And The Maytals Band – DancehallMag

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