Friday, September 22, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Friday, September 22, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Widow Says Barn Dance Must Go On

RICHMOND (CN) - The widow of country music icon Jimmy Dean says she is free to revive a concert series despite threats from the former holders of its trademark.

Donna Dean Stevens Enterprises LLC sued Willis Pittman, Old Dominion Barn Dance Inc. and the Old Dominion Barn Dance Foundation for the Performing Arts in Federal Court, claiming non-infringement.

DDS Enterprises was started by Donna Dean Stevens, the wife of deceased country musician Jimmy Dean and a performer herself. She is trying to bring back the Old Dominion Barn Dance event, "a Richmond country music tradition," according to the complaint.

The famed concert series was held in the 1940s and 1950s and broadcast throughout the United States and Canada via radio.

DDS Enterprises has scheduled a Feb. 21, 2015, concert using the Old Dominion Barn Dance name but the defendants are trying to stop it from happening, claiming they own the trademark.

The company formed by Stevens, however, says Pittman and the two Old Dominion entities forfeited their right to the trademark by not using it for more than 20 years.

"Defendant Pittman has asserted that he has the right to prevent DDS Enterprises from using the Old Dominion Barn Dance mark and is seeking a substantial payout from DDS Enterprises for its upcoming revival of the concert series," the complaint states. "These threats, however, are without merit, as none of the defendants have used the Old Dominion Barn Dance mark in commerce in decades and they have no right to interfere with DDS Enterprises' plans."

Pittman and Old Dominion Barn Dance Inc. tried to bring back the concert series themselves in 1991 but didn't have much success. Several shows were held but others were canceled due to performer scheduling problems, according to the complaint. The last time the defendants used the trademark was at a Virginia State Fair show in the fall of 1992.

DDS Enterprises has a pending application for the rights to the Old Dominion Barn Dance trademark. Pittman's registration of the trademark was canceled in 2011, the lawsuit says, but he allegedly asked for $75,000 in order for the 2015 concert series to continue.

"DDS Enterprises declined to make the payment and, at that time, defendant Pittman stated that he would not try to interfere with the revival of the Old Dominion Barn Dance," the complaint states. "Nevertheless, in follow up correspondence and conversations, defendant Pittman rescinded his statement that he would not interfere with DDS Enterprises' efforts to revive the Old Dominion Barn Dance and went on to threaten to do exactly that."

DDS Enterprises has additional shows planned for May, August and November of next year.

The company seeks a declaration that the defendants have no trademark rights to Old Dominion Barn Dance and that the plaintiff's use of it does not constitute infringement.

It is represented by Brad Newberg of McGuire & Woods in Tysons Corner, Va.

Categories / Uncategorized

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.