Bobby Blotzer and WBS Inc. lose again in Court as found to be re-litigating Ratt partnership issue
It appears that former Ratt drummer Bobby Blotzer may have hit the end of the road in his litigation attempts to obtain control of Ratt.
Back at the end of March 2018, Blotzer had announced that he would do one last interview (with Mitch Lafon for the podcast Rock Talk with Mitch Lafon) until the litigation ends — “win lose or draw.”
Justice Dean D. Pregerson of the United Stated District Court, C.D. California concluded in his Order dated November 9, 2018 that the issue pertaining to WBS, Inc. having obtained ownership of the Ratt trademarks had already been determined in prior court rulings in favour of the Ratt partnership that included singer Stephen Pearcy and bassist Juan Croucier, and therefore Blotzer and WBS Inc.‘s attempt at re-litigating that question was inappropriate.
Justice Pregerson provided the following background information in his Order:
“This is the third in a series of suits before this Court regarding the ownership of various trademarks related to the rock band “RATT.” The underlying facts are well known to the parties, and are not in dispute. In the 1980s, the original members of the band formed a partnership (“the RATT Partnership“), which owned and registered four trademarks related to the name “RATT.” In 2015, Defendant WBS, Inc. (“WBS“), at the direction of original band member, founding RATT Partnership member, and onetime WBS President Defendant Robert Blotzer, brought suit against another founding band member and RATT Partnership member, Juan Croucier. WBS, Inc. v. Juan Croucier, Case No. CV 15-7251-DDP. In 2016, WBS filed a similar suit against another founding band member and RATT Partnership member, Stephen Pearcy. WBS, Inc. v. Stephen Pearcy, Case No. CV 16-03495-DDP. In those actions, WBS alleged that Croucier and Pearcy infringed upon the RATT trademarks, which the RATT Partnership had allegedly assigned to WBS in 2007.
On cross-motions for summary judgment in the Croucier case, this Court determined that no reasonable trier of fact could conclude that the RATT Partnership had assigned ownership of the RATT marks to WBS, and thus WBS could not show any ownership rights in the marks. Accordingly, this Court entered judgment against WBS. For that same reason, this Court granted summary judgment against WBS in the Pearcy litigation soon after.
Now, in the instant action, the RATT Partnership brings suit against WBS, Blotzer, and others, alleging, among other causes of action, trademark infringement related to Defendants’ allegedly unauthorized use of RATT trademarks. Defendants bring counterclaims against the RATT partnership, including false advertising and common law trademark claims. The RATT Partnership now seeks summary adjudication that Defendants are collaterally estopped from contesting the RATT Partnership‘s ownership of the RATT trademarks. The RATT Partnership seeks to dismiss Defendants’ Third through Seventh Counterclaims for the same reason.”
Justice Pregerson outlined Blotzer‘s position as follows:
“This case, like the prior cases, revolves around ownership of RATT trademarks. Defendants’ entire argument is predicated on the assertion that, notwithstanding, and indeed as a result of, the fact that the RATT Partnership never assigned the RATT trademarks to WBS, WBS nevertheless enjoys common law ownership of the marks. Defendants’ theory, unsupported by any authority, appears to be that because the RATT Partnership‘s purported assignment of the marks to WBS was invalid, the RATT Partnership always owned, but then abandoned, the registered marks, which WBS then acquired through use.”
The question to be determined was succinctly stated to be: “The pertinent question is whether the current dispute over ownership was actually litigated and resolved in the prior actions.”
Justice Pregerson agreed with Pearcy and Croucier as he ruled: “The answer is yes. Although Defendants put forth a new, common law-based theory about why WBS owns the RATT marks, the question whether WBS or the RATT Partnership owns the marks was already litigated, and resolved, in Croucier and Pearcy. Defendants had a full and fair opportunity to raise that theory in the prior litigation.”
Justice Pregerson concluded: “Although in the instant suit, Defendants attempt to raise a new theory of ownership of the RATT marks, the issue of trademark ownership, even under common law theories, could have been, and was, litigated to final judgment in the prior actions. Defendants may not relitigate that question again here.”