The iconic Swedish pop group ABBA is suing a British tribute band called Abba Mania for trademark infringement, calling the act’s behavior “parasitic and bad-faith.”
In a lawsuit filed Friday in Manhattan federal court, ABBA claimed that Abba Mania’s use of the name was part of a “brazen attempt” to trade on the band’s “cachet” and dupe fans into thinking it is officially licensed by the original.
“Defendants include the term ‘official’ and ‘original’ in many of their marketing materials, website pages, and social media handles, which gives consumers the impression that there is some kind of association, affiliation, or sponsorship between ABBA and ABBA MANIA,” the group wrote.
ABBA burst onto the scene in 1974 by winning the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Waterloo,” which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band released several more top 10 hits, including the chart-topping “Dancing Queen” in 1976. Abba Mania, meanwhile, has been touring since 2000 and is in the midst of an extensive tour of US cities.
Tribute bands – acts that exclusively cover the music of a particular band – often adopt names that refer or allude to the original, but they can typically avoid legal issues by clearly stating that they are not affiliated with the original. Such groups will often append “A [Band] Tribute” after their name.
In Friday’s lawsuit, ABBA said it had offered Abba Mania the chance to do so, but had been rebuffed.
“In an attempt to amicably resolve this dispute, [ABBA] explained how defendants could properly use the phrase ‘ABBA Tribute’ in a non-confusing manner to describe their tribute act so long as the actual name of the tribute act did not include the word ABBA,” attorneys for the band wrote in the lawsuit. “But Defendants refused to comply and cease use of the name ABBA MANIA.”
Abba Mania’s website does include a banner that states: “ABBA MANIA IS NO WAY ASSOCIATED, AFFILIATED, OR ENDORSED BY POLAR MUSIC OR ABBA,” but it appears ABBA was seeking an actual change to the name itself. A representative for the group’s corporate entity, TAL Entertainment Ltd., did not return a request for comment on Monday.
The lawsuit also named a company called Handshake Ltd., as well as individuals James Stuart Littlewood and Todd Littlewood. ABBA filed the lawsuit under its corporate entity, Polar Music International AB.
ABBA is repped by attorneys from the prominent trademark law firm Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu PC, including lawyers David Donahue, Jason D. Jones and Daniel M. Nuzzaci.