The Kingston Trio's Trademark Sparks Legal Battle of the Bands

The son of one of the band's founding members says he paid $100K for a 10-year exclusive license.
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The Kingston Trio

The Kingston Trio may have debuted on the folk music scene in the 1950s, but an iteration of the band is still touring — and a dispute over who exactly should be in that group has sparked a lawsuit.

On one side is Josh Reynolds, son of founding member Nick Reynolds, and his cousin Gerald "Mike" Marvin.

On the other side is original member Bob Shane, his wife Barbara Childress, musicians George Grove, William Zorn and Richard Dougherty and concert booker Nikki Gary.

Reynolds and Marvin last year entered into a 10-year licensing agreement with Shane and Childress to use the band's trademark — but, less than a week after paying the $100,000 royalty fee, they found out Gary was booking gigs for Grove, Zorn and Dougherty to perform as The Kingston Trio.

"Defendants are refusing to acknowledge Josh and Mike's rights under the exclusive license, and instead, are choosing to compete with them and dilute the value of everything they bargained for," writes attorney Martin Singer in a complaint filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. "The conduct of Defendants (and others), which is entirely inconsistent with the collaborative and positive spirit of the sixty-year history of The Kingston Trio, must be dealt with now, before it is too late, and the value of the Kingston Trio name is diluted beyond repair."

Reynolds and Marvin have the exclusive right to use the mark beginning Tuesday, according to the complaint, which is posted in full below. They're suing Grove, Zorn, Dougherty and Gary for trademark infringement and dilution, among other claims, and are seeking an injunction that bars defendants from using the trademark for the next decade.

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