Stone Temple Pilots Rocks Weiland With a Lawsuit
Note: This article has been updated to include comment from Louis Miller.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Stone Temple Pilotss 20th anniversary concert tour. The band got divorced.
And its a pretty nasty split. Three of the original band members filed a lawsuit [PDF] against lead singer and frontman Scott Weiland, claiming theyd fired him in February. Yet Weiland has continued to use the bands name to advertise his own performances without themin violation of the groups partnership agreement, the complaint alleges.
The rest of the Stone Temple Pilots band members allege they replaced Weiland following behavior [that] began to seriously harm the Band, and say they have recorded new material and performed with a new lead singer. The complaint, filed in state court in Los Angeles on May 24, accuses their former mate of breach of contract and trademark infringement, among other offenses, and asks for millions of dollars in damages and injunctive relief.
Weiland has not yet answered the complaint, and his lawyer, Gary Stiffelman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Weiland did have a thing or two to say on his Facebook page.
In a letter to my fans that he apparently posted on May 25, Weiland wrote: First of all they dont have the legal right to call themselves STP because Im still a member of the band. When he tours on his own, he wrote, he uses his own name.
I dont give a fuck what they call themselves, Weiland added, but its not Stone Temple Pilots.
Howard Shire, a partner at Kenyon & Kenyon in New York, says that the plaintiffs complaint looks strong. If, that is, the complaint accurately described the bands partnership agreement and the advertisements that Weiland published to promote his own tour (which allegedly violated the bands trademarks).
A few years ago Shire represented Ozzy Osbourne in litigation over ownership of the Black Sabbath trademark. That case was complicated by the fact that there was no written agreement on ownership.
In this case, according to the complaint, the partnership agreement dealt with the issue in considerable detail. And it purportedly said that the bandrather than any individualowns the name. That would seem to be a very strong factor in favor of the plaintiffs, Shire says.
But the complaint might have been stronger still, Shire observes, if plaintiffs lawyer Louis Miller of Miller Barondess had buttressed it a bit. The complaint quoted only snippets from the partnership agreement. Quoting more, or attaching part or all of the agreement itself, would have made it stronger. So would attaching ads that the plaintiffs claim infringed their marks, Shire says.
Part of this is winning the PR battle, he notes. And making more of the evidence public can go a long way on that front.
Finally, Shire wonders why the plaintiffs asked for injunctive relief without also moving for a preliminary injunction to force Weiland to stop infringing the bands trademarks immediately. Maybe thats the next step, he speculated.
Reached on vacation in Hong Kong, Miller responded by email. "Scott Weiland brought this lawsuit on himself by his wrongful acts and conduct, causing his expulsion from the band and costing the band millions in damages," Miller wrote. "We have the evidence and will prove our claims in court. In the meantime, Stone Temple Pilots looks forward to delivering great music to its fans."