Facing a potential lawsuit and preliminary injunction from Feld Entertainment, Kid Rock has changed the name of his upcoming North American tour.
What was the “Greatest Show on Earth” tour is now the “American Rock N Roll” tour, a move that comes after Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and the trademark for the phrase “Greatest Show on Earth” filed a federal lawsuit in Florida last month and asked a judge for a preliminary injunction stopping Rock, who’s real name is Robert James Ritchie, from using the phrase, which he also uses for a song off his new album.
“While I firmly believe that I am entitled under the First Amendment to name my Tour after my song,” Rock said in a sworn declaration submitted to the court, “I have changed the Tour name because I do not want this lawsuit to distract me or my fans from focusing on what is important in my upcoming Tour—my music.”
Rock has “already officially re-named the tour and begun the process of removing the original tour name from all marketing and websites,” explained attorney Kenneth G. Turkel, who said that Rock was well within his free speech rights to use the name on fair use grounds, but opted to avoid trouble by changing the tour name. Turkel also defended Rock’s use of “Greatest Show on Earth” as a song title from his 2017 album Sweet Southern Sugar. Turkel said the song’s title has nothing to do with Ringling Bros., and simply “boasts about Kid Rock’s ability to perform the greatest f**king show on Earth.”
The tour name change hasn’t led Feld to drop their case, yet. When asked if the circus owner was still planning to pursuing the suit, a spokesperson for Feld Entertainment told Amplify “as of today yes.”
Feld ended the circus’ 146-year run in May but retained ownership of the recognizable trademark, which it’s held for decades. After an unsuccessful attempt to get Feld’s lawyers to drop their case, Rock decided during the 2017 holiday break to rename the tour and made the change across all marketing, ticketing and promotion channels.
It’s unclear whether the change in the tour name will resolve the case, explained attorney Steven Lowy with Isaacman, Kaufman & Painter Attorneys in Los Angeles.
“The song and video may not violate the trademark because it falls into a different class of goods and services,” Lowy explained. As for the tour name itself, the change may render the temporary injunction moot but “the proceedings could endure because of damages and lawyer fees” sought by Feld.