May 28 2013 05:45 PM

Indie-rockers come up against Arizona surf outfit in trademark faceoff

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Grand Tarantula

Indie-rockers Grand Tarantula are considering a name change after having a run-in with an obscure Arizona surf-rock band called The Tarantulas who are on a crusade against musical groups in the United States that have "Tarantula" in their name.

About eight months ago, Grand Tarantula got a Facebook message from The Tarantulas that ordered them to change their name. The Tarantulas have trademarked their name, and they claimed that "Grand Tarantula" infringed on their trademark. 

Grand Tarantula ignored the message, so The Tarantulas stepped up the pressure, filing a complaint with Facebook and getting Grand Tarantula's Facebook profile taken down. 

Grand Tarantula frontman Jordan Clark thinks the whole situation is pretty over-the-top, especially considering that the two names are clearly different.

"I feel like it's just his only way of feeling like he's doing music," he says, referring to Tarantulas guitarist / vocalist Randy J. Shams. "It somehow makes him feel like he's still in the game or something."

But in an interview with CityBeat, Shams insisted that the names are similar enough for "Grand Tarantula" to be an infringement. He says he must protect his trademark because it could get taken away if he doesn't.

"If McDonald's hamburgers let somebody open a hot dog stand called Mr. Joe McDonald's Hot Dogs, then everybody else can do that, too," Shams says. "But, you know, it's not gonna happen, because they have to protect their trademark." 

Shams says he's gone after 10 to 15 other bands that have the word Tarantula in their name, and he's compelled some to change. If Grand Tarantula don't change theirs, Shams says he'll save up money to file a lawsuit against them in federal court, a costly process but one he's gone through before.

Though Shams acknowledges that he's gotten negative feedback for his efforts, he says his band name is worth protecting.

"Probably when I'm 80 years old, I'll still have The Tarantulas," he says. "It's my life. If I don't protect it, then I'll lose the name, and the name means a lot to me."

Clark thinks Shams needs to chill.

"Get over yourself, man," he says.


Email peterh@sdcitybeat.com or follow him on Twitter at @peterholslin.

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