Kid Rock's Ex-Partners Ask Judge To Determine Who's Top Dog

They say name and logo that appears on his merchandise is theirs.

Kid Rock's claim to the Top Dog name and logo, which appears on many of his albums and merchandise, may go astray.

His former business associates Alvin Williams and Earl Blunt, of EB-Bran Productions, filed a motion Wednesday against Rock (real name Robert Ritchie), Top Dog Records Inc. and merchandise company Kid Rock Superstore Inc. on grounds of trademark infringement.

They're asking Judge Nancy Edmunds of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to award them sole ownership of the Top Dog trademark and logo as well as unspecified monetary damages.

EB-Bran Productions formed Top Dog Records Inc. in 1988, and Kid Rock entered into the corporation with a 25 percent interest the following year. However neither the name nor the logo, which Williams and Blunt say they designed, was ever trademarked. Before Rock was enlisted, the Top Dog Records name appeared on an album by singer Gregory Brown, according to EB-Bran attorney Gregory J. Reed, and even without a licensed trademark EB-Bran was under the impression that they eventually gained the mark through common law, he said.

Rock's lawyer William Horton, however, contends that his client had a hand in the Top Dog logo's final design.

After having no contact with either Williams or Blunt for more than a decade, Rock tried to trademark Top Dog Records himself in 2001, claiming he was the sole owner, and he filed a lawsuit to invalidate a contract he'd signed with Williams in 1989 (see "Kid Rock Sues Ex-Associate Over Contract"). In '89, though, Rock acknowledged in the contract he signed with Jive Records, which released 1990's Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast, that EB-Bran had a controlling interest in the Top Dog logo.

After being notified of Rock's attempt to trademark Top Dog, EB-Bran Productions filed a countersuit claiming EB-Bran should be awarded the trademark. Rock's lawyer said he plans to respond to EB-Bran's motion and will file his own motion to dismiss the case.

Judge Edmunds has yet to set a date for a hearing.