Just when fans thought it was smooth sailing for the return of R&B group BlackStreet, news has surfaced that producer Teddy Riley has filed a lawsuit against his former band mates, Mark Middleton and Eric Williams, accusing them of illegally using the group’s name.
The lawsuit, filed at a Virginia district court, claims that from 2003 until now, Middleton and Williams have booked performances for themselves using the BlackStreet name, without the proper permission or consent, from Riley and Chauncey Hannibal, who have held the rights to the name since 1992.
“Defendants have used the name and mark Blackstreet in such a manner as to create actual confusion and likelihood of confusion among prospective customers and/or purchasers of the services provided by plaintiffs,” states the filed document. “Defendants have harmed the goodwill of plaintiffs in the name and mark BlackStreet, causing immediate and irreparable harm to plaintiffs.”
According to Riley and Hannibal, on joining the group five years after BlackStreet initially formed, both Middleton and Williams signed work for hire contracts, and had no rights to use the group’s name.
Lawyers claim that Middleton and Williams have ignored cease and desist letters and still continue to book shows as BlackStreet and this confusion has reportedly resulted in the cancellation of an official Blackstreet tour of Europe.