“Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday,” Mick Jagger sang. “Who could hang a name on you?” That song—and the phrase “Ruby Tuesday”—made a chart-topping single for the Rolling Stones in 1967. But because America is often capable of ruining very good things, a Tennessee restaurateur borrowed the name for his chain of hamburger joints five years later. Ruby Tuesday now has more than 540 locations, and my guess is that not a single person has ever enthusiastically suggested going there for a meal.
Although the name “Ruby Tuesday” was dreamed up by Keith Richards, Ruby Tuesday, Inc. sure is protective of it. The company has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against a “penniless five piece rock/fusion band” from Australia because they also borrowed Keef’s song title.
“While many artists pay tribute to other artists through imitation, when it comes to imitating famous trademarks, only Ruby Tuesday is entitled to the goodwill of its mark,” the letter from Ruby Tuesday’s law firm, Mintz Levin, said. “In fact, the knowing adoption of a mark intending to play off a well-established mark is among the most egregious of trademark violations, warranting courts to apply the harshest of consequences.”
Ruby Tuesday, the restaurant, is suing Ruby Tuesdays, the band, for an equally egregious $2 million. It has also asked that the group surrender its website and destroy all of its merchandise. There’s only one problem: according to the Illawarra Mercury, that merch is pretty much all the band has. Ruby Tuesdays formed less than a year ago in Wollongong, Australia and, so far, they’ve spent about $12,000 on gigs, a music video, and Ruby Tuesdays t-shirts. (Shaun Snider, the band’s 33-year-old guitarist, is also a high school teacher. These dudes don’t exactly have Swiss bank accounts and sofa cushions filled with stacks of small bills.)
“We definitely have no plans of destroying and handing over our merchandise,” the band told MUNCHIES. “If they want we are willing to give them a copy of a CD to play in one of the restaurants for $30 plus [a] shipping fee.”
Ruby Tuesdays has reportedly retained an attorney and will be doing its best to fight the lawsuit, partially because they’ve invested so much money in their name already. Plus, they didn’t steal it, they borrowed it from that Rolling Stones song JUST LIKE THE RESTAURANT DID.
“We can’t [afford a lawsuit] however, our opinion there is no case here,” they said. “We had never heard about the restaurant chain before this. We got our name from the Rolling Stones song, as did they. They are selling burgers and we are making original music it is no way derivative or an attempt to cash in on their market.”
It might be unsurprising, but these Ruby Tuesdays are far from the only Ruby Tuesday or Ruby Tuesdays making music under that name. There are also Ruby Tuesday bands in South Africa; in Melbourne and Traralgon, Australia; in Nottingham and Blackburn, England; and Portland, Maine.
“We were actually contacted by the band ‘The Ruby Tuesdays’ from the UK who said we have their support and we should do a show together,” the (Wollongong, Australia) Ruby Tuesdays told MUNCHIES.
There’s also something called the Ruby Tuesday Dixie Band, which describes its sound as “toe-tappin' traditional Dixieland tunes and other great standards.” (If someone from Mintz Levin is reading this, that’s the band that deserves a lawsuit.) And who knows how many other Ruby Tuesdays are playing somewhere tonight?
MUNCHIES has reached out to the edible Ruby Tuesday for comment. In the meantime, those Ruby Tuesdays have a new single called “Wooden Moon,” and they’re apparently selling a lot more merch lately
They just can’t be chained to a life where nothing’s gained and nothing’s lost, at such a cost. Or something.