Dolly vs. Louise, the grudge match

A curious reader followed up on an earlier post about Triumphity’s awkward tap-dance around the use of the Kingdom Heirs names in association with … well, just about anything having to do with Triumphant, a group comprising three former KH members who left the French Brothers’ outfit (that’s KH, if you’re keeping score at home) under less than amicable terms with the Frenches. Ok, got that? Anyway, David Sutton had this to say about the conspicuous absence of any references to KH:

When we [meaning Sutton, Eric Bennett and Jeff Stice] left the Kingdom Heirs we received a letter from [the Kingdom Heirs’] attorneys asking us not to use the Kingdom Heir name in any kind of our promotional material. Out of respect to their wishes we have tried to honor that.

Now, call me old fashioned, but that’s stone-cold hardcore for the Frenches to threaten legal action (even if via a “request” from a lawyer that the Triumphities not to use the name). Nevermind the hints of acrimony that have swirled around the KH/Triumphant split. On the level of the obvious, it seems pretty clear that, since both KH and Triumphity work at theaters in Pigeon Forge, TN (the KH at Dollywood; Triumphant at the Louise Mandrell Theater), and the KH were the first on the PFTN scene, the KH don’t want their group’s name used in promotional material for another group - especially not their across-town rival comprising more than half of one of the most popular KH iterations in recent history. But still, it’s hard not to see or feel a little bit of the personal grudge seep through this “request.” I mean, I presume the basis of any legal action here would be on the grounds of infringing the KH’s trademarked name, and I can see the Frenches (who own the group) getting their longjohns bunched up if Triumphity was putting up signs that said something like: “Triumphant: The Better of Part of the Kingdom Heirs.” But just as you can’t copyright facts, can a trademark be infringed in the statement of fact? “David Sutton was long-time tenor for the Kingdom Heirs.” Hard to see much room for litigation in there.

Obviously, Triumphity is playing it safe and taking the high road and all that - a wise choice for anyone with an aversion to probably frivolous but certainly expensive and obnoxious litigation. But, if only for the sake of calling out the Kingdom Heirs’ pomposity, it sure would be satisfying for the Triumphants to call the KH’s legal bluff. Usually, legal bullies (like their brethren on the playground) never intend for anyone to force their hand, so it would be interesting to know if the French brothers actually thought as far down the road as the day when, say, Triumphity went ahead and put complete and accurate biographies up on their website. If that day ever came, the KH would look pretty ridiculous whether they put up or shut up: if they did nothing, they’d look (even more than they already do) like the blustery bully who makes a lot of noise but not much else (in these cases it’s difficult to distinguish taunt from tantrum); and if they actually went ahead and sued Triumphity, the KH would come off more than a little mean-spirited and petty, not to mention paranoiac (though I admit, Dolly (KH) vs Louise (Triumphity) in court would be pretty entertaining). The funniest part is, if KH hadn’t made a big deal about all this, nobody woulda noticed or cared, except of course the French Brothers, and that - I assume - is the point.

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