Gladys Knight Wants Name Taken Off Eateries

     ATLANTA (CN) — Soul singer Gladys Knight sued her son in an attempt to get her name removed from his chicken and waffle restaurants, after he was charged with stealing taxes owed to Georgia.
     Knight filed the federal lawsuit last Friday against her son, Shanga Hankerson, and his restaurant companies Rival Group LLC, Cascade Foods LLC and Granite Foods LLC.
     In June, Hankerson’s three restaurants — each under the name Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles — were raided by the Georgia Department of Revenue. Hankerson was charged with stealing $650,000 in state taxes.
     Knight seeks to remove her name from the restaurants. She says a letter was sent to her son with her request in July, but he has not yet taken any action.
     In 1999, “Knight and her son Hankerson on behalf of his business entity Rival entered into a written agreement in which Knight granted Rival a license to use her intellectual property in connection with a restaurant catering to visitors to Atlanta from across the country and specializing in southern cuisine in exchange for monthly royalty payments based on Rival’s annual adjusted gross revenue,” Knight’s complaint states.
     The “Midnight Train to Georgia” singer says the agreement made it clear that it was not a grant of licensing to any of her trademarks. The deal, according to Knight, had a 10-year life span.
     After the agreement expired, Knight continued an oral licensing arrangement with Hankerson and his business entities, which allowed them to continue using Knight’s name in the operation of the restaurants.
     They are now allegedly using her trademark without her permission and she seeks injunctive relief and damages. She asserts claims for unfair competition and false advertising under the Lanham Act.
     According to an ABC News report, Hankerson’s attorney, Dana Tucker Davis, said Hankerson “has no desire to fight his mother for use of her name.”
     Christopher Bussert of Atlanta-based Kilpatrick Townsend represents Knight. He did not immediately return a phone call requesting comment.

%d bloggers like this: