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Bell v. Streetwise Records, Ltd. - 640 F. Supp. 575 (D. Mass. 1986)

Rule:

A party seeking preliminary injunctive relief must satisfy four requirements: (1) that there is a likelihood of success on the merits; (2) that absent relief it will suffer irreparable harm; (3) that the harm it will suffer if an injunction is not granted outweighs the harm defendant will suffer if restrained; and (4) that injunctive relief is consistent with the public interest.

Facts:

Plaintiffs Bell, Bivins, Brown, DeVoe and Tresvant, members of a singing group, were known around the world by the name “New Edition.” Together with their present recording company, MCA Records, Inc. (MCA), they sought to establish their exclusive right to appear, perform and record under that mark. Defendants and counter-claimants Boston International Music, Inc. (BIM), and Streetwise Records, Ltd. (Streetwise) produced, recorded and marketed the first New Edition long-playing album, "Candy Girl," as well as the singles from that album. Defendants BIM and Streetwise claimed that they employed the five individual plaintiffs to serve as a public front for a “concept” that they had developed, and to promote musical recordings embodying that "concept." Because the mark New Edition allegedly identified those recordings and not the group members, BIM and Streetwise asserted that they were its rightful owners. Both plaintiffs and defendants requested that the district court enjoin the other from using the mark.

Issue:

  1. Should the individual musiciians' motion for preliminary injunction be granted?
  2. Should the producer's and marketer's motion for preliminary injunction be granted?

Answer:

1) Yes. 2) No.

Conclusion:

The federal district court granted plaintiffs' motion requesting a preliminary injunction and denied defendants' motion. Plaintiffs individuals demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits, while the defendants failed to do so. Additionally, the failure to enjoin defendants would have irreparably injured plaintiffs by weakening the mark, in excess of the minor injury the injunction would cause defendants.

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