Fast-talking Toledoan Jon Stainbrook knows he can't make as much noise as the nationally known chart-topping band Staind.
The local musician, however, vows that he won't be drowned out in a legal battle that has made its way into federal courts in New York and Toledo.
Over the past two years, Staind and Stainbrook, 41, have traded lawsuits and applications to cancel federal trademarks all to claim a name - The Stain.
Stainbrook, who at 16 started Club Stain and introduced The Stain during a 1981 talent show at St. John's Jesuit High School, said his struggle with the "morally corrupt" music industry is the focus of his existence these days.
"I'm the poor guy fighting the huge corporate machine," he said.
And as a devout Christian, he claims he isn't fighting Staind for money but to remove any connection with the metal band's "satanic" lyrics.
At its infancy in the early 1980s, Stainbrook's colorfully garbed punk group seemed destined to amount to nothing more than a garage band. But a dozen years later, the act was still performing while finding a niche producing more than 80 profitable jingles and songs used in commercials and shows on numerous networks including FOX, ESPN, and the Discovery Channel.
But all of that doesn't give Stainbrook the legal standing to mount a federal court challenge against a California band that has sold 8 million records.
What does is his decision in 1993 to pay $85 to register "The Stain" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington.
Brad Rose, a New York attorney representing Staind and Geffen Records president Jordan Schur against Stainbrook in the trademark dispute, said the Toledoan is merely causing a stir in hopes of jump-starting his lackluster music career. Schur has worked with Staind and other big name acts, including Ashlee Simpson and Limp Bizkit.
The Stain first crossed paths with Staind in the mid-1990s, when a representative for the up-and-coming East Coast garage band inquired about buying the trademark of Stainbrook's band.
Stainbrook said he agreed to sell use of his band's name to Staind in 1999 for $18,000, after what he said were promises from Schur and assurances that Staind would use the trademark in "good faith" - meaning the band wouldn't inject so-called anti-Christian sentiments into its music.
The cover of the Staind's first album, "Tormented," in 1996, depicts a knife piercing a bloody Bible and, in one song, the band sings, "The thoughts from my mind command my hands to cut your silken flesh."
In November, 2003, attorneys representing Stainbrook forwarded a letter to Staind's lawyers, putting them on notice that they believed the band had infringed on Stainbrook's copyright and breached terms of the deal reached in 1999.
Within a week of the letter, Staind's attorneys filed suit in federal district court in New York against Stainbrook, asking Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum to determine who owns the name.
Stainbrook successfully defended himself in the New York court and Judge Cedarbaum - who presided over the Martha Stewart case - ruled that Staind's lawyers filed the suit in the wrong jurisdiction.
In December, Staind filed a federal suit against Stainbrook in federal court in Toledo. Stainbrook filed a countersuit.
To bolster his case, Stainbrook has retained Tony DeGidio, an intellectual property attorney and professor at the University of Toledo College of Law.
"When you assign a trademark, you assign all of the good will in the mark," said DeGidio, who has litigated against Ross Perot and the NFL.
"There's legal questions as to whether they've accepted the good will of the mark."
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