Eagles Sue Hotel California for Trademark Infringement

The Baja hotel isn't affiliated with the famous song.
Getty Images (Eagles); Courtesy of Hotel California (Inset)
From left: Eagles' Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh

The Hotel California in Baja may indeed be a lovely place, but the Eagles are not amused by its name.

The band is suing the establishment for trademark infringement, claiming it's trying to capitalize on the name of the famous song.

"Through advertising targeted to U.S. consumers, and in-person communications, Defendants lead U.S. consumers to believe that the Todos Santos Hotel is associated with the Eagles and, among other things, served as the inspiration for the lyrics in 'Hotel California,' which is false," writes attorney Laura Wytsma.

"Hotel California" isn't just a hit song or the title of the Eagles' most successful album, it's the "essence of the band itself," Wytsma argues. Since the late '70s, the band has sold merchandise bearing the mark — everything from guitar picks to bathrobes to posters. (An application to register the trademark for merchandise is pending.)

The small hotel originally opened under the name Hotel California in 1950 but went through subsequent ownership and name changes, according to the complaint. The Eagles' song was released in 1976. 

When Debbie and John Stewart bought the hotel in 2001, the complaint states, they sought to revitalize it by creating a reputation "based at least partially on the hotel's reputed, but false, connection to the Eagles." 

Wytsma says the hotel also plays the Eagles' music and sells T-shirts that refer to the hotel as "legendary," which leave consumers with the impression that "they have visited 'the' Hotel California made famous by the Eagles."

The Eagles are seeking an injunction to ban the hotel from using the name Hotel California or doing anything else to imply it is connected to or approved by the band, and are asking for all related profits plus actual and exemplary damages.

An attorney for the hotel has not yet replied to a request for comment on the complaint.

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