The Platters’ Trademark Fight: Is There a Pretend ‘Great Pretender’?

by T+B Blog Team on December 21, 2011

Who has the right to use the name “The Platters”? The R&B singing group, well known for their 1950s hits like “The Great Pretender” and “Only You” may be in the midst of an identity crisis. Herb Reed Enterprises, owner of the trademark for “Herb Reed and The Plattersfiled suit in U.S. District Court for Nevada against Monroe Powell’s Platters, alleging trademark infringement. Here’s a copy of Reed’s trademark record from Corsearch® Advantage™:

According to the lawsuit, Reed says he founded The Platters back in 1953. The original members of The Platters included Herb Reed, Paul Robi, David Lynch, Tony Williams, and Zola Taylor. Over the years, the group split up and Reed continued to perform using the Platters name, while “new” Platters groups, including Monroe Powell’s Platters and others, performed around the country.

The Platters were inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. This year, “The Great Pretender” was named number 360 of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone. That’s one song ahead of Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up.”

Reed’s suit says that Powell was never a member of the original Platters and has no right to the mark. Here’s how Powell describes his history on his website: “The Lead Tenor, for more years than any other tenor in the Platters musical history, joined the group at the beckoning of the famed Buck Ram in 1970.”

Which group do you think owns the right to use The Platters? And do any of you remember which actor in the film ‘American Graffiti’ sings along to “The Great Pretender”?

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