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Pennsylvania wedding band Jellyroll sues country artist Jelly Roll over trademarked name

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CBS News Philadelphia Live

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Country artist Jelly Roll is being sued by a Pennsylvania wedding band — alleging they've been going by the name Jellyroll for years before the CMT Award winner's career took off.

The band Jellyroll is based out of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, in Delaware County. And though they've been performing since the 1980s, the band says they've been hurt by the rise of "Save Me" and "Son of a Sinner" singer Jelly Roll, a former rapper turned country singer who found success in music after stints in and out of jail in his youth.

Jellyroll has filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia, alleging violation of their trademark, harm to their brand and "unfair competition" among other counts.

Note: Jellyroll (one word) is the Pennsylvania band while Jelly Roll (two words) is the country artist.

Jelly Roll, whose real name is Jason Bradley DeFord, won Video of the Year, Male Video of the Year and Performance of the Year at the 2024 CMT Awards. He also performed at the event.

When accepting the award for Male Video of the Year, he addressed people in juvenile detention and drew upon his past struggles with the law in Tennessee that included arrests for drug possession and robbery.

"I just want them to know that you can really overcome this. This is just a moment of your life and who you were isn't who you are, and that you can change at any given moment of the changes around the corner for all of us," Jelly Roll said. "I truly believe that I epitomize it as much as I can."

Official biographies of Jelly Roll show he was born in 1984 in Antioch, Tennessee.  

The band Jellyroll, whose website calls them the "best wedding band in Philadelphia," claims their ability to surface on Google search results was also hurt by Jelly Roll's rise in popularity. And that's despite the band acquiring "such fame occurring long before Defendant['s] adoption and use of Jelly Roll, in fact even before Defendant was born."

"Prior to the Defendant's recent rise in notoriety, a search of the name of Jellyroll on most search engines, and particularly Google, returned references to the Plaintiff. Now, any such search on Google returns multiple references to Defendant, perhaps as many as 18-20 references before any reference to Plaintiff's entertainment dance band known as Jellyroll® can be found," the suit says.

2024 CMT Music Awards - Show
Jelly Roll accepts the video of the year award onstage during the 2024 CMT Music Awards. Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for CMT

The band also claims there's unfair competition with the country artist - in particular when he began advertising his Beautifully Broken Tour coming to Philadelphia on Oct. 2, 2024. The suit says marketing for the country artist, especially in the northeast U.S., "is causing, has already caused, and will continue to cause, not merely a likelihood of confusion, but actual confusion."

Jellyroll the band does have records of a trademark as well.

According to the suit and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Jellyroll received a trademark registration on Aug. 17, 2010, and it was accepted for renewal in December 2019 - meaning it remains active until at least 2029 (or later if it is approved for renewal).

Records of the trademark are available on the USPTO website and confirm it is active and was renewed in 2019 - with a first use in 1980.

The suit was filed on behalf of Kurt Titchenell, the trademark holder and longtime leader of Jellyroll.

Jellyroll is a band "providing live musical and vocal entertainment consisting of at least seven to eight musicians that feature a horn section, a string section including violins, keyboards, a percussion section, and at least three vocalists."

Jellyroll says they've also performed twice at the White House for President George W. Bush, including once in a 2008 private reception.

CBS Philadelphia reached out to an attorney for Jelly Roll the country artist, who did not immediately return a request for comment.

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