The House of Bryant is responding to Lake City's efforts to change its name to Rocky Top.
Thursday night, city council members approved the name change,which is spurred by a company that wants to build a Rocky Top theme park in the city. The change would have to be approved by state legislators next year.
The vote was almost derailed by a letter from the House of Bryant, warning of possible copyright infringement if the town tried to make money off the name.
Rocky Top was written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant in 1967. Their sons, Dane and Del Bryant, own the trademark for Rocky Top through the House of Bryant.
According to a statement from attorney L. Lee Wilson, "House of Bryant has marketed various products, itself and through licensees, under the Rocky Top trademark over the years and currently owns federal trademark registrations for Rocky Top for nine classes of goods. Further, House of Bryant has exclusively licensed the Rocky Top mark to the University of Tennessee for any product that also uses any of the UT trademarks, including the "Power T", the name of the university, and the color orange."
Wilson said the House of Bryant is concerned that the proposed Lake City theme park would infringe on both its copyright in the song "Rocky Top" and on its trademark rights.
"If the theme park sells Rocky Top merchandise, it would have to enter a trademark license agreement with House of Bryant. If the theme park used the song or elements of the song, it would have to enter a separate copyright license agreement with House of Bryant," said Wilson.
Wilson said the letter to Lake City was simply to make them aware of the possible issues in advance of any need for a lawsuit. They hope the issues can be "amicably settled."
At last night's meeeting, Lake City's vice mayor Michael Lovely "If he (House of Bryant Publications) wants some kind of royalty, then we can work something out on that. Because this is a win-win situation."
Wilson said, "Of course, House of Bryant understands the power of the song "Rocky Top" and its place in the hearts of Tennesseans; Dane Bryant and Del Bryant are merely trying to protect part of the heritage left them by their wonderful parents, who worked so hard at their craft and, in the process, made millions happy with their music."