Is this a flashback? One faction of veteran rock band Jefferson Airplane is again suing a founding member, Paul Kantner, alleging that he is using the band's name without permission.

Is this a flashback? One faction of veteran rock band Jefferson Airplane is again suing a founding member, Paul Kantner, alleging that he is using the band's name without permission.

Singer Grace Slick and Bill Thompson, former manager of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in California federal court charging that Kantner is violating both trademark rights and an $80,000 legal settlement he signed in 1985.

In exchange for the money, Kantner promised never to perform as Jefferson Starship and never to use the names "Jefferson" or "Airplane" without consent from Slick, the majority shareholder in Jefferson Starship Inc., the suit said.

Kantner has been performing for years under variations on the names. He started touring in 1991 as Paul Kantner's Starship, while Mickey Thomas, another ex-Starship vocalist, has been touring under the name of Mickey Thomas' Starship. Kantner's and Airplane vocalist/co-founder Marty Balin's use of the Airplane name for a 2000 concert tour brought another lawsuit and an injunction.

Asked why Kantner hadn't been sued before now, Thompson said, "Grace and I were being Good Samaritans, I guess. Playing small fairs didn't irritate us so much."

Kantner crossed the line by making a deal earlier this year to let Microsoft Corp. use the Starship name to promote a new computer operating system, Thompson said. He said publicity for the concerts associated with the promotion included a poster with a photograph of Slick.

The suit says Kantner has cost Thompson, Slick and Jefferson Starship Inc. more than $750,000 in revenue from using a name not rightfully his. The suit seeks to confiscate his profits and stop him from performing as Jefferson Starship.

"Thompson's been suing people for years and usually he's on the losing end," Kantner said. "This time the whole pack of cards is going to be coming down." Kantner said he hadn't sold the Starship name, but let Microsoft use it in promotions for four free concerts, for which the band was paid $100,000.

"On this 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love," Kantner said, "love is going to triumph." Slick, reached at her Malibu, Calif., home, laughed and said she wouldn't discuss the case.


AP LogoCopyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print