‘A complete farce’: Touring Guess Who band members ask for dismissal of lawsuit brought by Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman

The current lineup of The Guess Who are calling an October 2023 lawsuit from former bandmates Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman “meritless” and calling for the motion to be dismissed.

Cummings and Bachman filed a $20 million lawsuit against Garry Peterson and Jim Kale, both original members, alleging the group is misleading fans who are coming to see them perform.

The suit alleges the defendants including two corporate partnerships, have assembled a band of hired musicians described as a “cover band” to perform, record albums and advertise performances using The Guess Who band name and trademark.

The allegations assert they are “falsely misleading” the general public by giving the impression Cummings and Bachman are performing with the group. The pair said Kale no longer performs with the current line up and Peterson “performs infrequently.”

A December 7, 2023, memorandum of law in support of a Motion to Dismiss filed in U.S. District Court Central California refutes the claims calling the allegations “a complete farce.”

“The Guess Who’s advertisements clearly set forth the band’s current lineup and expressly disclose its “numerous member changes” over the years,” the court document states in part, “The Guess Who’s advertising does not say or do anything to imply that Plaintiffs are in the band.”

The lawsuit claims Cummings and Bachman have delayed too long to file their lawsuit, saying the statute of limitations has expired on the trademark use.

“Following their time in The Guess Who, Bachman and Cummings performed as solo artists or in other acts. But they have found that, at least in the U.S., their names do not have the same recognition, and do not garner the same commercial demand, as “The Guess Who,” the documents say, “Bachman and Cummings have tried to take “The Guess Who” name for themselves, despite having left the band decades ago and Defendants carrying on the band’s legacy.

The suit alleges Bachman and Cummings infringed on the trademark when promoting their shows in the U.S. until the band stepped in to enforce their trademark. The suit then alleges the pair started pressuring The Guess Who to license or sell them the trademark, including threatening “expensive litigation” unless the band caved to this demand, the statement reads.

None of the claims have been tested in court. The full memorandum can be read here.

Bachman, Cummings, Kale and Peterson performed in the Guess Who during the 1960s and 1970s. Bachman left the group in 1970, while Cummings left in 1975. Kale and Peterson have an active trademark to the name The Guess Who, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

CTV has reached out to the lawyer representing Cummings and Bachman for response.  

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