Is this a flashback? One faction of the 1960s psychedelic band Jefferson Airplane is again suing founding member Paul Kantner, alleging that he’s using the band’s name without permission.
Singer Grace Slick and Bill Thompson, former manager of the Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in federal court, charging that Kantner is violating both trademark rights and an $80,000 legal settlement he signed in 1985.
Kantner promised never to perform as Jefferson Starship or use the names “Jefferson” or “Airplane” without consent from Slick, majority shareholder in Jefferson Starship Inc., the lawsuit said.
Kantner, 66, 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 and co-founder Marty Balin’s use of the Airplane name in a 2000 concert tour brought another lawsuit and an injunction.
Asked why Kantner hadn’t been sued before now for his appearances under the Starship banner, Thompson said: “Playing small fairs didn’t irritate us so much.”
Kantner crossed the line by making a deal 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.
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.
Slick, reached at her Malibu home, laughed and said she wouldn’t discuss the case.