Phish has filed a lawsuit against Sean Knight of Knighthood Clothing, allegeding that he
has infringed on the bands intellectual property. The company specializes in t-shirts
and stickers that bear Phish song titles but don’t use the bands logo or the word
Phish. Knight maintains that after being told not to use the logo in the early nineties, he
has abided by the bands requests. He is surprised by the legal action. They didnt give
us an ultimatum, says Knight. This kind of just came upon us all the sudden. The last
time (Phish management) contacted me was 1996. I think theyre going after really
small people and trying to crush (us) and then offering to walk away from it if we just
close up shop. Our attitude here is well take it all the way to the Supreme Court if we
have to. This is over principle now. Its a just a matter of them telling me that when Im
kicking back, listening to music and something pops in my head and I put it on a t-shirt,
its illegal?
Phish manager John Paluska feels that legal action was the bands only option. We
make every effort to avoid litigation and resolve these situations quietly, says Paluska.
In the case of Sean Knight, we concluded that it was the only remaining avenue
available to us.
Phish’s policy regarding unauthorized merchandise is the same as it’s ever been. If
someone is producing merchandise without a license that infringes on any of Phish’s
intellectual property rights (trademarks, common law trademarks, copyrights,
likenesses, etc.), we take action to attempt to stop the sale of these goods The
general reason we chose the path we did in this circumstance is that we believed
(Knight) was violating the band’s rights on several fronts and that anything less than
legal action would fall on deaf ears.
The case will be heard July 12 in Brattleboro, VT.