A federal judge has ruled that Lake City can move forward with its plans to change its name to Rocky Top.
Judge Thomas Varlan issued his ruling on Wednesday, more than three weeks after hearing from the House of Bryant, Lake City officials and the developers who are looking to bring an attraction to that Anderson County town.
The House of Bryant, which owns the rights to the song "Rocky Top," had asked for a temporary injunction against the name change, saying it could do irreparable damage to the brand that family created. They also questioned whether an attraction in Lake City would even be built.
The city and developers had questions as to what extent the House of Bryant had ownership of the name. They felt just because the House owned the rights to the song "Rocky Top" does not mean they have the trademark to everything else Rocky Top.
Judge Varlan denied that injunction in a 32-page memorandum opinion. Varlan had multiple reasons for his judgement; one said the House of Bryant did not do enough during the injunction hearing to show a Lake City name change would cause the brand "irreparable harm".
The Lake City city council had approved a name change to Rocky Top in 2013, but it will have to do so once again thanks to a state law.
Lake City Mayor Tim Sharp said the city council will need to approve the change on two-thirds vote. He believes the vote will happen sometime in June.
"I'm just excited we can now become Rocky Top," he said.
But, Lake City is not out of the woods yet when it comes to possible legal action down the road.
The city's lawyers said Judge Varlan's opinion only considered the issue of whether the Anderson County town had the right to change its name. They said it did not stop the House of Bryan'ts lawsuit against the town and their ability to seek damages for copyright infringement.
However, the possibility of more litigation does not worry Anderson County Commissioner Tim Isbel.
"We're not infringing on the House of Bryant whatsoever," he said.
Isbel also said they are hopeful that work on the Rocky Top theme park can begin in 18 months.