‘Opry’ objections

  • By Jackson Holtz Herald Writer
  • Thursday, August 25, 2011 12:41pm
  • Local News

For a country group to be noticed in Nashville usually means they’ve hit it big.

Not this time.

Officials at the Grand Ole Opry, the legendary live country show based in Nashville, hollered when they learned the title of the upcoming Septemb

er Hometown Hootenanny show at the Historic Everett Theatre: “Legends of the Opry.”

Opry officials also were concerned that the Snohomish County group may be using the Opry’s logo.

A poster on the Hootenanny’s Website features the Opry’s famed five-pointed star stamped with a fancy eighth note.

On Tuesday, an official with Gaylord Entertainment, the Opry’s parent company, called the Historic Everett Theatre. The message to cease and desist was passed along to Red Curtain Entertainment, the Hootenanny’s production company.

“I’m like, ‘Seriously, they care about the little Hootenanny,'” said Beckye Randall, the Hootenanny’s producer. “It kind of threw me.”

Gaylord Entertainment officials said they recently learned of the Hootenanny’s use of their trademark.

“Although we are certain that the Red Curtain Foundation intended to pay tribute to our world-famous Grand Ole Opry brand, we unfortunately are not able to grant permission to use our trademarks in this manner,” company spokesman Brian Abrahamson said in an emailed statement. “We are a publicly-traded company with an obligation to protect our valuable intellectual property. Accordingly, we were required by law to ask the Red Curtain Foundation to stop their use of these items.”

For the past three years, the Hootenanny has become a Snohomish County institution. The locally produced country variety show brings together homegrown talent each month. To keep things interesting, producers come up with a different theme each month.

The Sept. 9 concert was planned as a tribute to the Opry.

The Hometown Band, the Hootenanny’s house band, plans to play songs by Opry legends Roy Acuff, Waylon Jennings, George Jones and Hank Williams Sr. Guest artists are rehearsing tunes by Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and Patsy Cline. Bluegrass band Money Creek Mining Co. plans to bring to life the music of Grand Ole Opry regular Bill Monroe, the man many consider the father of American bluegrass.

But the name of the show no longer will mention the Opry, Nashville’s shrine to country.

On Tuesday night, Randall announced in an email that she’s changing the concert’s name to “Legends of Nashville.” The Hootenanny Website was changed on Wednesday.

Protecting trademarks is big business. Corporations invest millions of dollars to build and sustain a brand, said Kate Hendricks, a partner with Hendricks and Lewis, a Seattle intellectual property and entertainment law firm.

“They police it because they have to in order to maintain their trademark rights,” she said.

Misuse of a trademark may dilute a brand or cause confusion. For example, people may believe an event that uses a trademarked name or logo is an officially sanctioned event, Hendricks said.

While the Hometown Hootenanny is inspired by shows like the Opry, there is no official connection.

The Hootenanny is taking no chances.

“We are changing the title to ‘Legends of Nashville,'” Randall wrote. “I don’t think they’ve trademarked the word ‘Nashville.'”

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3447; jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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