Christian Zamora has had a weird week. On Monday, the 30-year old San Francisco bar manager and local musician received a cease and desist letter from lawyers representing Chelsea Tyler, the 25-year old daughter of well-lipped Aerosmith crooner Steven Tyler, giving him 48-hours to remove all traces of his band bAd bAd from the Internet.
According to the cease and desist letter sent by LaPolt Law in Los Angeles to Zamora, his bAd bAd “capitalizes on the goodwill and reputation” of the badbad name and creates commercial confusion. Zamora has 48-hours to take down all of his band’s music, remove the name from all of its social media and online properties and provide badbad’s attorneys with a full accounting of all money his band has made using the name. Not good good.
“They pretty much want us to wipe ourselves off the face of the earth,” Zamora says. “It’s so ridiculous.”
Zamora’s protest is that by most fair assessments his band was there first. bAd bAd formed in February 2012, he says. There’s written record of them in existence from April 16 of that year when they joined Facebook and posted two demos on that first day. The band have played shows steadily since, released music videos and a debut record in January this year. bAd bAd play an unabashedly DIY brand of surf rock, gigging about San Francisco at venues like the Boom Boom Room and the El Rio. Its debut record, which it now can’t sell, was released on cassette.
Zamora’s major issue — aside from having a cashed up child of a A-list superstar initiate legal action against his band, which recorded its last album on an iMac — is that badbad claims to have owned the trademark to its name and have been in existence since 2011, but filed no application, released no music and played no shows until 2013.
According to badbad’s Tumblr, Tyler and Foster met in the summer of 2011. Its band bios list the band as being formed in 2011. In an interview with Tyler in the Miami Herald in December, she says that after her and Foster started dating they would tell each other, “I miss you bad bad.” When they wrote their first song — Tyler doesn’t specify when in the article — it was called ‘badbad.’ Eventually, they made it their band name.
Despite this claim, Tyler and Foster never played a show as badbad until May 2013, when they debuted at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr accounts started popping up for the band from between February and April 2013. It launched its official website in October. There’s no reference to badbad in 2011 or 2012 on either of Tyler and Foster’s personal Twitter accounts.
The letter from badbad’s attorneys to Zamora claims that it has owned the badbad trademark since July 2011, right from the moment almost when Tyler and Foster would have met. Again it wasn’t until May 2013 when the band filed for a trademark of the badbad name, giving them exclusive license to play music and sell recordings and merchandise bearing the badbad name. The trademark was granted in November.
Neither badbad itself, LaPolt Law or its management, the 360 Group, responded to a request for comment.
badbad’s existence is diametrically opposed to bAd bAd. Four days after it launched a Twitter account it was posting about making its first music video. Its second show was a sponsored concert for Tommy Hilfiger. There’s evidence of it playing eight shows on Facebook and it released a single in October. Not a lot to go on, but still, enough for glamor spreads in Foam magazine and a euphoric write up in TeenVogue.
If badbad were a band in 2011, they were a band in secret. bAd bAd weren’t. But the fact the bands haven’t crossed paths until now, the whole proceeding having been initiated by a Spotify mishap listing the two bands music under the same artist, hurts Zamora’s case.
According to the US Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) the issue of who was badbad or bAd bAd first isn’t so important. If the applicant has a bona fide intent to use the name in commerce it can file a claim. badbad’s trademark was published for opposition on November 5. Outside parties have 30-days to oppose the trademark.
Zamora says it was only a few months ago that he found out that Liv Tyler was not an only child and became aware of Chelsea Tyler’s rival badbad, already too late. There’s an avenue for appeal though. USPTO says that actual use of the bAd bAd name may give it common law rights and avenues to challenge the trademark.
That’s almost beside the point, at this stage. Chelsea Tyler’s father has a net worth of over $100m. Christian Zamora plays in a band where everyone has day jobs and is getting free legal advice from a girlfriend of a friend of his to try and file a response to LaPolt Law asking for more time.
The different worlds badbad and bAd bAd inhabit — San Francisco dive bars and Venice Beach high society — give the two bands little overlap. But Zamora thinks that the level of aggression displayed is the most bizarre, designed clearly to scare them into packing up or changing names with little fight.
“They’ve gone straight for the kill here,” Zamora says. He hopes that he can fire a shot back, but even he isn’t convinced that such brute display of legal force won’t break bAd bAd.
[image via https://www.facebook.com/badbadmusic]