NASHVILLE–The Country Music Assn. and Christian Country Music Assn. continue to battle in U.S. District Court in Nashville over the Christian music organization’s use of acronyms.
In the most recent skirmish, the courts ruled that the Christian Country Music Assn. had violated a preliminary injunction issued last October that prohibited the organization from using the acronym CCMA, saying the initials were too similar to that of the CMA and caused confusion.
Most recently, Christian Country Music Assn. CEO Gene Higgins had begun using “CCA” for Christian Country Association, a name he trademarked in 1997, but the judge ruled that that violated the preliminary injunction.
Court documents state “the new logo utilized by the Defendants breaches the Safe Distance Rule. This Court found that the letters CCA not only created a likelihood of confusion with CMA, but was possibly even more confusing.”
Higgins says he has tried to comply with the court rulings and didn’t think using CCA would incite further action.
“I thought that (CCA) was a good acronym,” says Higgins. “I thought we’d call our awards show the CCA Music Awards and it should make everybody happy. We put it on the website, didn’t notify the press, just put it out there, and the CMA came back and put a contempt of court on me that I can’t use that because it was too much like the CMA again.”
CMA representatives see the new acronym as still being likely to create confusion. “CMA regrets having to take this legal action,” says CMA executive director Ed Benson, “and we’ve continued to suggest to Gene Higgins that he use his organization’s full name in order to prevent confusion among consumers and the media between the annual award shows.
The district court had enjoined Higgins from using CCMA or any confusingly similar designation. The Court subsequently held that CCA was “confusingly similar” and held that Higgins was in contempt of the court’s original injunction.
The disagreement began 10 years ago. Ed Benson says they began writing letters to Higgins in 1994 asking him to cease using CCMA.
In September 26, 2002, CMA filed its original complaint. On Oct. 24, 2003, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction. This all came to a head last fall in the weeks before both organizations held their annual awards shows. CMA’s event took place Nov. 5 and the Christian awards were Nov. 6.
Because of the injunction, the Christian organization had to cease using the CCMA logo in materials promoting their convention and awards show, which was broadcast on the Great American Country (GAC) network. When the ruling came down, Higgins said, “We’ve used that acronym 12 years. It’s like someone taking your baby away from you.”