Ripples of opposition spread throughout the Web this past weekend after Black Flag co-founder Greg Ginn sued his former bandmates for use of the band’s iconic logo and mark during their tour as “FLAG” this year. Despite fan derision, however, Ginn’s attorney Evan Cohen told Hive that the seminal punk band’s former members forced the guitarist’s hand by filing false and fraudulent trademark applications to the US Patent and Trademark Office for the use of “Black Flag” as well as the logo.
“They forced us to do this, because not only do we need to bring an opposition to the trademark application in the trademark office, but we also need to bring what’s called a cancelation action for cancelation of the existing mark — for the four bars,” Cohen said. “Then we also found out that they’re also selling bootleg T-shirts on the tour and then they started — about halfway through the tour — they started using the actual bars, not the even bars, but the uneven bars. It’s like they ratcheted up their usage of the Black Flag materials and it came to a point where we couldn’t not sue them.”
Black Flag — in an iteration featuring Ron Reyes, guitarist Greg Ginn and drummer Gregory Moore — reunited at the beginning of this year, announcing a summer tour in March. FLAG, a version of the band including Keith Morris, bassist Chuck Dukowski, guitarist Dez Cadena, drummer Bill Stevenson, and the Descendants’ Stephen Egerton — was unveiled on the same day as the reunited Black Flag, and announced tour dates as well.
The proliferation of Black Flags was confusing to the music world, to say the least, which is, in part, why Ginn and Co. is suing FLAG. However, according to Cohen, the musician would likely not have decided to sue his former bandmates if not for the allegedly false trademark applications. That’s why the suit was filed on Friday, August 2, months after the FLAG tour kicked off.
“I think we discovered more and more of the things that FLAG was doing with regard to the trademarks,” Cohen said. “I knew about one of the fraudulent applications that [Henry] Rollins and [Keith] Morris filed. I didn’t know about the other one until about three weeks ago. For whatever reason — and I still don’t know the answer to the question — Henry Rollins and Keith Morris filed these trademark applications last September in which they had a bunch of information that was not truthful.”