Legal Use Of Platters' Name Resolved

From the law offices of Leland, Parachini, Steinberg, Matzger, & Melnick, LLP in Los Angeles, comes the following statement regarding the legal use of the Platters' name:

At long last, the decades of litigation regarding the Platters' name has come to an end. The result of the litigation is that the group led by the legendary Monroe Powell is the only group that has any legitimate claim to the Platters' name.

In Robi v Reed, 173 F3d 736 (9th Circuit 1999) the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court finding that Martha Robi, the widow of original member Paul Robi, had no rights to the Platters' name. In Marshak v Reed, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, No 96 CV2292, Judge Nina Gershon ruled that Herb Reed had no right to use the Platters' name and enjoined him from using that name. That decision was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a summary order, 2001 WL 668656. Judge Gershon then issued an order canceling Reed's federal trademark to the Platters' name.

In 1988, Judge Consuelo Marshall of the US District Court for the Central District of California ruled that the Five Platters Inc.'s federal trademark in the Platters' name was acquired through fraud and ordered it cancelled. That decision was upheld by the Ninth Circuit in Robi v. Five Platters, 838 F2d 318 (9th Circuit 1988). Judge Marshall also awarded $3.5 million in damages, including $2 million in punitive damages, against Five Platters, Inc., Buck Ram and Jean Bennett. That damage award was also upheld by the Ninth Circuit.

Judge Marshall left open the remote possibility that the Five Platters, Inc. could show a common law trademark in the Platters' name. The Five Platters, Inc. then sued Monroe Powell asserting they owned a common law trademark in the name. Following a decision in favor of the Five Platters Inc., Mr. Powell appealed. The Ninth Circuit reversed that ruling, remanded to the trial court and stated that the Five Platters had conceded that their prior use of the name was misleading which would preclude a claim of common law trademark. The Ninth Circuit went on to find that it was extremely unlikely that The Five Platters, Inc. could ever establish a common law trademark in the name. Following this decision, the Five Platters Inc. abandoned their common law trademark and unfair competition claims.

The Five Platters, Inc. proceeded with their claim that Mr. Powell breached a contract by using the Platters' name. On November 6, 2001, the Honorable Manuel Real of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed this action for lack of jurisdiction.

By reason of these decisions, it is undisputed that Martha Robi, Herb Reed and Five Platters, Inc. have no claim of any sort to the Platters' name and any use of that name is unlawful. We are informed that there is a group in Branson, Missouri and a group managed by Larry Marshak using the Platters' name. However, both of these groups claim rights from a license issued by Five Platters, Inc. Since Five Platters, Inc. no longer has any rights to the name, these groups also have no rights. It is only Monroe Powell who can make a claim to the Platters' name and he is currently going forward with the process necessary to secure a federal trademark in the name.

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