Maryland Live! Threatens lawsuit against Bethesda Live, now trading as Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club
Bethesda, MD, (October 25th, 2016) – Maryland Live! owned by the Cordish Companies and operators of the casino “Maryland Live! 40 miles from Bethesda, has threatened a lawsuit against Bethesda Live (DBA: Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Ave. Bethesda, MD 20854) if they change their name. Rick Brown, a life-long resident of the Washington Metropolitan area, was very excited when he was able a few years ago to purchase the landmark Bethesda Theater. His mother had graduated from high school (BCC) on the stage there and his father and 2 brothers are professional musicians. His dream was to convert the 1938 art deco theater into a venue offering live music and good food. In March 2013, after considerable investment of time and money, Mr. Brown opened the doors at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club. He eventually felt the club’s name was limiting since it also featured Country, Rock, Motown, Comedy, Classical, and Latin and other genres of music. In its first 3 ½ years, the venue has hosted over 900 artists, held 145 private events and served over 240,000 customers.
On September 16, 2016, after settling an investor lawsuit, and reaffirming his 30-year lease, Mr. Brown announced that he planned to change the name of his 500 seat club. Bethesda Live would reflect that his club offered a wide array of live entertainment in addition to blues and jazz. Shortly after making this announcement, he received a letter from an attorney for Live & Holdings LLC, the owner of the Maryland Live! gambling casino near Baltimore objecting to his adoption of the Bethesda Live! name. Citing a federal registration for the Maryland Live! name, among others, the gambling enterprises attorney’s maintained that Live Holdings had a family of Live! trademarks and its Live! marks were famous. The casino’s attorney maintained that Mr. Brown’s use of “Bethesda Live” would create a serious likelihood of confusion, mistake or deception to the consuming public. The casino alleged Mr. Brown’s plans amounted to unfair competition, willful trademark infringement and dilution of the casino owner’s trademark rights.
Mr. Brown looked into the casino owner’s claims and discovered the trademark laws do not allow someone to acquire rights in a descriptive term like “Live,” if it’s used for its ordinary meaning, such as live entertainment. He also found out that descriptive terms, if registered with other names, are narrow in scope and you have to look at the competing terms. You also have to consider the similarity in services; otherwise, the owner of the Saturday Night Live name may be able to stop Maryland Live! or a whole host of businesses, which offer, live entertainment around the country.
In a nutshell, what Mr. Brown’s supper club discovered is that the casino owner’s rights cannot be extended to prevent Bethesda Blues & Jazz from changing its name to Bethesda Live for live music. The casino owner is simply a well-funded trademark bully using its deep-pockets to harm small business 40 miles away. Examples of other uses in this marketplace include “Hill Country Live”, “The Hamilton Live”, “Rams Head Live”, “Frederick Live”, and others. Therefore, he plans to stand up to the casino’s attempt at intimidation.
For further information: Please contact either Rick Brown, 301 367-4489 or his counsel, Chris Foley, with Finnegan, Henderson, 571-203-2720.