Judge Sides With Original Supernova In ‘Rock Star’ Suit

Ruling requires Tommy Lee's band to change name following show's finale.

David has defeated Goliath.

According to a Tuesday (September 12) ruling by San Diego Judge John Houston, the producers of CBS’ “Rock Star” are going to have to come up with an alternate name for Supernova, the band made up of Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee, Voivod’s Jason Newsted and former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke.

Last month, the original Supernova — an Orange County, California, punk trio — filed for a preliminary injunction in San Diego’s U.S. District Court against CBS Broadcasting, Mark Burnett Productions and Lee, Newsted and Clarke, who are starring in the second season of the reality show. The injunction sought to halt the television-contrived act from performing or recording under the name “Supernova” if the band fails to change or add any words to the moniker.

Lee, Newsted and Clarke were dropped as defendants late last month at the request of the original Supernova’s lawyers (see “Supernova File Injunction Against Tommy Lee’s ’Rock Star: Supernova’ “ ).

Earlier Tuesday, Houston granted the request from the members of the original Supernova — bassist Art Mitchell, drummer Dave Collins and guitarist Jodey Lawrence — for the preliminary injunction. The injunction keeps the producers of “Rock Star: Supernova” — which concludes Wednesday night — from “performing rock and roll music, or recording, or selling rock and roll music recordings under the same [name], pending a trial of this action on its merits, or until otherwise ordered by the court.”

The original Supernova — which formed in 1989 and released four studio LPs — first filed suit against the show’s producers in late June (see “Supernova Sue ’Rock Star: Supernova’ Producers, Bandmembers” ). The filing alleged trademark infringement and sought a jury trial, as well as the eradication of all “labels, signs, prints, packages, wrappers, containers, advertisements, electronic media and other materials bearing the Supernova mark.”

Supernova are perhaps best known for their tune “Chewbacca,” which appeared on the soundtrack to Kevin Smith’s 1994 film “Clerks.” When the group discovered the show’s producers’ intentions to use Supernova as the name for their supergroup, the band contacted them; negotiations between both sides followed on the heels of the suit’s filing. Those talks hit a wall last month, forcing the band to take additional legal action to protect its rights.

The suit insisted that the “Rock Star” producers willfully ignored the fact that the Supernova moniker was unavailable and that “individuals within defendants’ own organizations informed defendants of plaintiff’s rights in the Supernova mark.” Using the Supernova name would cut into the original band’s future earnings, as it would interfere “with plaintiff’s business relationships” or cause the band to lose merchandising deals and potential offers to perform, according to the suit. The filing also suggested that some fans of the band might be confused and therefore duped into buying the new Supernova’s merchandise and music.

In his ruling, Houston acknowledged that “the marks are identical, the parties operate in very similar or identical markets, the Supernova is distinctive and therefore strong, and there is evidence of actual confusion in the market.” Houston further noted that “irreparable harm [to the original Supernova] is presumed” and added that “defendants access to [a] large amount of monetary and promotional resources will effectively diminish, if not eliminate, [the original Supernova’s] commercial presence in the marketplace.”

The decision, in short, bars the CBS-created rockers from touring, recording and selling merchandise as “Supernova” once the order takes effect. First, the original Supernova must post bond, the amount of which has yet to be determined by the court.

The “Rock Star” band will launch an American tour December 31 in Las Vegas, with dates scheduled through February 27 in Long Beach, California. The Panic Channel, the band featuring “Rock Star: Supernova” co-host and former Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, has been tapped to open on all the trek’s dates (see “Dave Navarro Juggles TV And Guitar, Shrugs Off Panic Channel Sales” ).