In a July 30, 1999 decision with far reaching implications for
the entertainment industry a U.S. District Court in Newark N.J.
overturned a jury verdict that found Drifters manager an owner
Faye Treadwell abandoned the Drifters after the group ceased
performing regularly in the United States in the mid-1970s.
The Nature of Action and Parties. A plaintiff-Appellant,
Larry Marshak at the time sought a declaration of rights
acquired both through federal trademark registration, and through
more than 25 years of common law use of the mark in issue, to
the exclusive use in the United States of the mark "Drifters",
to identify live singing performances of "Oldie" songs associated
with the 1950s and early 60s.
The Defendant-Appellee Faye Treadwell at the time counter-claimed
alleging that she possessed common law rights to the exclusive
and superior use of the mark.
Subject of controversy both parties claimed there exclusive right
to use the mark in the United States.
Summary of facts as they pertain to the early years a group by
the name of The Drifters recorded songs as contracted employees
of one George Treadwell. By the mid 1960s, due to the diminishing
popularity of the music style and or that of the group, promotion
of Drifter recordings ceased. Mr.Treadwell passed away in 1967.
In overturning the verdict, it was ruled that uninterrupted and
continued royalties from ongoing recording sales and airplay
of original Drifter songs constituted continued commercial use
of the Drifters name in the United States, and therefore no
abandonment had occurred.
The Drifters Brand is and has been an on going entity since the 50s
due to it's unique music style, lead vocalist and it's over all
There are those who attempt to type cast the act in a given period
such as the 60s when you had the great songs such as "There Goes
My Baby and "Save The Last Dance" came along with the artist who
recorded the song of that time.
Yet Drifters songs were recorded before that period and long after
that period up through the 80s, with Drifters who continue to keep
the brand alive today.
It fact it was the Bell Arista group featuring the late Johnny Moore,
Bill Fredricks, Grant Kitchings, Butch Leake (still living) Joe Blunt
(Still Living) and Clyde Brown (Still Living) along with management and the prolific production team of Greenway music which brought back the brand from the grave in the early 70s.
Today the worldwide licensing rights for The Brand is held by PMG
Prism Music Group UK and the ownership is still with the Treadwell
The 60s Atlantic group had by the early 70s had all but disappeared
off the radar, when 3 former members of the brand Charlie Thomas,
Doc Green, Elbeary Hobbs along with there management one Larry Marshak
filed for a Drifters service mark under the Drifters partnership
Registration No. 1,081,338 for The Drifters which was issued in 1978
by The patent & Trademark Office in Washington DC.
Eventually this mark was revoked as it was proven in the courts that
it was obtained fraudulently knowing that there was another mark
which was still in commerce held by the original management the
Stay tuned to this continuing series on The Drifter Wars here at
Corner Talk Report.
(Corner Talk Report) for related info on the Drifters Legends read: