New Jersey music fans will likely have little problem recognizing the Eagles hit “Hotel California”. The timeless lyrics by Don Henley and Glenn Frey have inspired songwriters for generations, but the band claims that a Los Angeles hospitality company strayed beyond homage and entered the area of intellectual property rights infringement when it named a hotel in Mexico after the 1976 hit. The Eagles are seeking unspecified damages and injunctive relief in a trademark infringement lawsuit filed in a California federal court.
The owners of the hotel deny the allegations and claim that the band does not even hold the rights to its most popular song’s trademark. The company also points out that its website clearly states that there is no formal relationship between the band and the hotel. The hotel is built in the Mission style and overlooks the Pacific Ocean in the village of Todos Santos.
Attorneys representing the Eagles are unimpressed by these arguments and say that the band has acquired common law trademark rights to “Hotel California” through use. The lawsuit suggests that the hotel was renamed and rebranded in 2011 to take advantage of protected intellectual property, and it uses merchandise sold at the facility heralding the hotel’s ‘legendary” status as an example of this alleged infringement.
Lawsuits over copyrights, trademarks, patents and trade secrets can drag on for months or even years. Attorneys with experience in this area may take steps to ensure that their clients’ valuable intellectual property is properly protected both in the United States and overseas, and thy could seek to avoid costly intellectual property litigation by taking action swiftly at the first signs of infringement. When infringement is unintentional or inadvertent, cease and desist demands may be all that is needed to address the issue.