On July 1, 2019, a member of well-known ‘90s R&B group, Color Me Badd, filed a lawsuit in Indiana federal court against another member alleging he misappropriated the band’s trademark while trying to pursue his solo career.
CMB Entertainment LLC (“CMB”) and lead singer of Color Me Badd, Bryan Abrams (“Abrams”), are seeking to stop former group member Marc Calderon (“Calderon”) and Pyramid Entertainment Group (“Pyramid”) from selling and promoting concert performances under the name “Color Me Badd” (“CMB”).
Abrams and CMB allege that Calderon is willfully infringing the CMB trademark in violation of the Lanham Act. Additionally, they claim he is engaging in unfair competition practices in violation of the Lanham Act and Indiana common law. They also accuse him of breaching his fiduciary responsibility to CMB under Indiana state law, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit further adds, “Neither Calderon nor Abrams has been a model citizen and each, on occasion, has engaged in conduct arguably detrimental to the value of the Mark.”
In 1985, Abrams and Calderon formed Color Me Badd with Sam Watters (“Watters”) and Kevin Thornton (“Thornton”). The group signed with a record label in 1990, and its debut single, “I Wanna Sex You Up,” skyrocketed up the charts. The band enjoyed “commercial success during the 1990s” before going on a hiatus from around 1998 until 2010. During that time, Abrams did solo performances as Color Me Badd without objection from the rest of the group. Then in 2010, the band reformed, formed CMB Entertainment LLC, and continued to perform together on and off, according to the suit.
In 2015, in a separate lawsuit against CMB, Thornton alleged that Abrams had lied to him about being sober. Thornton said he had entered into the business relationship with Abrams based on fraudulent information, claiming that Abrams had told him that he had been sober for a time but, “as it turned out Abrams had not been sober,” according to Thornton. By 2016, the group had settled the case and Thornton had left the band.
Abrams and Calderon then hired Pyramid Entertainment Group to be their booking agent and have toured together as Color Me Badd both domestically and internationally in recent years.
In 2018, an on-stage incident led to Abrams’ arrest in New York for allegedly shoving Calderon. The lawsuit claims that matters became worse when “in the spring of 2019, Calderon made plans to launch his solo career” and “to use the Mark in connection with that endeavor” despite unsuccessfully seeking permission from Abrams and CMB.
The lawsuit alleges that Calderon has been improperly using the trademark on social media and in advertising for his solo shows and singles. It also states that Calderon’s alleged infringement has bred confusion and devalued the trademark.
Despite the lawsuit, Calderon and Abrams are still scheduled to play shows at venues across the country together as Color Me Badd.
CMB is represented by James J. Ammeen Jr. of Ammeen Valenzuela Associates LLP and Brian D. Caplan of Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt LLC.
Counsel information for Calderon could not immediately be determined.
The case is CMB Entertainment, LLC et al v. Calderon et al, case number 1:19-cv-02703, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
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