In a 32-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Varlan on Wednesday denied a motion seeking a temporary injunction to stop the Anderson County town of Lake City from changing its name to Rocky Top, reports the News Sentinel.
The motion was filed on behalf of House of Bryant LLC of Gatlinburg, which consists of the two sons of the late husband-and-wife songwriting team that penned the wildly popular bluegrass song.
It contended that allowing the municipal name change would erode and dilute the value of current trademarks held by House of Bryant. The trademarks, filed last year, are on a variety of trinkets.
Varlan opined that it is “unlikely that Lake City is using ‘Rocky Top’ in commerce” and therefore wouldn’t violate any trademark statutes. He also said House of Bryant didn’t show that it would suffer irreparable harm if the name change is granted.
Any harm caused by the municipal name change or the fledgling development firm that wants to use the town’s new name to boost its ambitious plans for a theme park is “speculative and uncertain,” the judge stated.
Varlan wrote that House of Bryant “cannot point to a single item in the (development) proposal that would infringe on its (trade)Marks.”
“We’re disappointed, but this is just round one, and we’ll see what happens next,” said John Triggs, attorney for House of Bryant. Triggs after the May 5 hearing said an appeal would be likely if the injunction were denied.
“I’m just excited that the judge did rule in our favor,” Lake City Mayor Tim Sharp said. “We’re ready to move on with getting our name changed.”