'Rock Star' Sued Over Band Name

(l-r) Gilby Clarke, Tommy Lee and Jason Newsted are judges of CBS reality show ROCK STAR SUPERNOVA. Photo: Robert Voets/CBS
Robert Voets/CBS
A Southern California rock band called Supernova has filed a complaint against Mark Burnett's CBS reality show "Rock Star: Supernova," saying it had the name first.

The complaint, filed June 27 in U.S. District Court, claiming unfair competition and trademark infringement, seeks to bar the show and its participants from using the Supernova name. It is also asks for compensatory and punitive damages.

"Our clients believe they have the superior right on the mark Supernova," the band's attorney, John Mizhir, told The Associated Press on Tuesday, adding that the band "has a longstanding common-law trademark right to the mark."

The group first performed under the name Supernova in 1991, according to the lawsuit. The band released several singles and three full-length albums under the name, the lawsuit says.

The CBS show using the name first aired July 5. "Rock Star: Supernova" follows 15 contestants who aspire to become the lead singer of Supernova, a new rock band that includes former Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, former Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke and former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted. The winner will tour with the band and appear on its album.

According to the lawsuit, representatives for Mark Burnett Productions ("Survivor," "The Apprentice") filed seven U.S. trademark applications for the name Supernova and two for "Rock Star: Supernova."

Gary Hecker, an attorney for Mark Burnett Productions, said the company has the legal right to the name.

"The complaint is without merit," he said.

Because the lawsuit has not yet been served, its defendants — Burnett, CBS, Lee, Clarke and Newsted — "do not have an obligation" to answer it, Hecker said.

By Sandy Cohen