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Friday Frivolity: Van Halen Sues Ex Wife For Using Her Name

By William Peacock, Esq. on October 18, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Alex and Eddies' band is hot over more then just their teacher. They've brought suit right now against Alex's ex wife for violation of the band's trademark by using their name in her construction and interior design business.

Except, it's her name too. Can someone really be sued for violating a trademark when that trademark is her own last name?

Alex Van Halen married Kelly Carter in 1984. They were divorced in 1996, but Kelly kept the Van Halen surname. Now she's using the name for her own private businesses, including swimsuits, blankets, and interior design services, reports the Guardian. Her website, unfortunately, is still under construction, so we'll have to wait to go shopping.

If this seems like a ridiculous lawsuit, well, it kind of is. As The Hollywood Reporter points out, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown Chemical Co. v. Meyer, ruled in 1891 that,

"A man's name is his own property, and he has the same right to its use and enjoyment as he has to that of any other species of property. If such use be a reasonable, honest, and fair exercise of such right, he is no more liable for the incidental damage he may do a rival in trade than he would be for injury to his neighbor's property by the smoke issuing from his chimney, or for the fall of his neighbor's house by reason of necessary excavations upon his own land."

Pretty clear, right? And Kelly has had the "Van Halen" name for nearly thirty years. She has the right to exploit her own name, just as the Van Halen brothers did when they formed the band.

However, there is a bit of room for argument, it seems. The band is alleging that KVH is diluting their trademark by attempting to sell goods in the apparel and fashion space that "are either identical or closely related to the goods sold by Plaintiff."

The band sells swimsuits, blankets and interior design services? And we thought Kiss and Wu-Tang (comics, Wu-Wear, etc.) were bad.

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