L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns files lawsuit for trademark infringement against drummer Steve Riley

Photo by Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography

L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns files lawsuit for trademark infringement against drummer Steve Riley

Metal Sludge has revealed that two former L.A. Guns bandmates will be slugging it out in court over the band name as guitarist Tracii Guns has filed a lawsuit alleging trademark infringement against drummer Steve Riley.

Bloomberg Law released an article two days ago which states in part that in a complaint filed on January 9, 2020, Guns is suing Riley in Los Angeles federal court for allegedly infringing the band’s trademark by touring under the “L.A. Guns” name and that Riley has also wrongly registered the band’s trademark in his name and misappropriated royalties.

It’s no secret that fans have been subject to two L.A. Guns entities over the last 14 years.

The second L.A. Guns entity started when Tracii Guns decided to operate his own version of L.A. Guns in 2006 after quitting the band back in 2002. Guns continued with his own version of L.A. Guns until about 2012 and employed a number of singers along the way including Marty Casey (2008-2009), Jizzy Pearl (2009-2011), Dilana (2011), Tony West (2011-2012) and Scott Foster Harris (2012).

During that time, Riley continued with the L.A. Guns entity first formed by Guns back in 1983. Eventually, Guns was able to lure lead vocalist Phil Lewis to join him in his own version of L.A. Guns and depart Riley‘s version of L.A. Guns in late 2016. After less than one and a half years on the sidelines, Riley resurfaced with his version of L.A. Guns and a new line-up consisting of L.A. Guns alumni — bassist Kelly Nickels and guitarist Scott Griffin — along with lead vocalist Kurt Frohlich. The band played its first show at the M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, Maryland, USA in May 2018.

The fact that Guns is bringing the trademark infringement lawsuit against Riley is interesting given that the former apparently authorized the latter to trademark the L..A. Guns name in the first place with the both of them as the custodians of that trademark. In addition, Guns was widely perceived as the one who started an alternate version of L.A. Guns back in 2006 while Riley forged along with the original version of the band.

In an interview with Sleaze Roxx back in March 2019, Lewis stated the following about not being an “owner” of the L.A. Guns name: “Yeah! All that stuff went down when I wasn’t in the band. I guess it had never been registered — the trademark or whatever — the rubber stamp. And I wasn’t in the band. I wasn’t even in music. I was working at Fox and I really couldn’t care less what they did. I guess it was as simple as writing out an application, standing in line at the courthouse downtown and having it stamped, and they made no stipulations. They said, “OK. We got the name 50-50.” And that was it. That was the legacy that ensued after that. That’s the piece of paper. It’s ridiculous and Tracii should have never have done it. He knows that but he did. Just have to deal with that.”