Taylor Swift has countered a theme park’s trademark infringement lawsuit against her with a copyright infringement lawsuit of her own.
Evermore Park in Tennessee claimed earlier this month that Swift had infringed its trademark with the release of her ‘Evermore’ album. She now says that the park has been putting on unlicensed performances of three of her songs as a “central attraction” for some time.
In her lawsuit, Swift says that actors at the park have been performing her songs ‘Love Story’, ‘You Belong With Me’ and ‘Bad Blood’ without licence since it opened in 2018. What’s more, collecting society BMI has been contacting the park regularly since 2019 to point out the need for a public performance licence – including twice sending draft agreements – but has been generally ignored by the park’s management.
However, says Swift’s lawsuit, as Evermore Park launched its litigation earlier this month, it also contacted BMI asking for a retrospective licence to cover past uses of her songs. This, she says, proves that the park was always aware of the need for a licence and is therefore evidence of “willful copyright infringement”.
“Defendants employ actors who perform as various characters at Evermore Park”, says the lawsuit. “These performers interact with guests and publicly perform copyrighted songs on a regular basis at the park. At a section of Evermore Park known as ‘the Burrows’, two actors regularly and routinely perform copyrighted songs, including the works at issue in this action, to large crowds of patrons”.
“These unlawful musical performances are marketed as a central attraction of Evermore Park”, it goes on. “For instance, Evermore Park’s website advertises that visitors can ‘[c]reate fanciful music’ with park actors and describes one of the park’s main activities as ‘musical character performances’”.
Swift’s lawsuit follows a somewhat ambitious claim by Evermore Park that her ‘Evermore’ album, released in December, infringed its trademark and was causing confusion for visitors. Its management said that people instantly became confused when the record was released, assuming that there was some connection between it and the theme park. They also claimed that people had started going to Swift’s website to buy her merch instead of the park’s – something refuted by Swift and her legal team.
Upon the album release, Evermore Park’s lawsuit claimed, guests started asking “whether the ‘Evermore’ album was the result of a collaboration between Evermore and Taylor Swift or some other type of relationship”. It added that traffic to the park’s website had also “experienced a dramatic departure from typical levels”.
The claim that people assumed some connection between the theme park and Swift seemed odd at the time. Although, if Swift is correct in saying that performances of her songs at the park were a central part of its experience, then maybe, just maybe, that makes a little more sense.
Swift has been prompted to retaliate in the courts, in part, her lawsuit says, because Evermore Park and its lawyers have been attempting to “force a settlement” for its “meritless trademark claim”.
She is seeking “enhanced statutory damages for defendants’ willful infringement” covering each song generally and each performance of them, plus reimbursement of her legal costs. She’d also quite like a jury trial if it comes to it.
Evermore Park is yet to respond.