A look at the Eagles Lawsuit against Hotel California
Famous American rock band The Eagles are suing a Mexican hotel in Todos Santos for allegedly capitalizing on the popularity of its iconic album and song Hotel California that took the world by storm in the seventies. Hotel California continues to be one of the most popular songs of all time by any band in the world. It is presented as a case of trademark infringement as Eagles claims they have no association with the Mexican hotel and that they are simply calling themselves Hotel California to cash in on the popularity of the album and song. The hotel has apparently also used its name in a manner by which tourists and guests consider the establishment to be somehow associated with the band, the album and the song.
Hotel California, the song, was not inspired by any real place. It was and continues to be a fictional place. The picture or the album cover used in the 1976 release was that of Beverly Hills Hotel. It is to be noted that Eagles do not have a trademark for Hotel California. An application for the trademark to be copyrighted is pending now. From that perspective, the argument from the hotel, is that Hotel California based in Todos Santos in Mexico has not committed any crime and there is no case of trademark infringement. However, the hotel has apparently allowed people to think they are associated with the band since many tourists describe their experience of staying at the hotel and shopping at its gift shop as having been to the place connected to the song.
Apparently, the Mexican Hotel California sells merchandise in its gift shop that is clearly inspired by the song. The establishment refers to itself as the legendary hotel, which is again an indication that it is somehow associated with the band or that it was the place the song was about. If such allegations are proven to be true, then there could be a case of trademark infringement. The Eagles have been selling merchandise branded with Hotel California for many decades now. There are online reviews of consumers that indicate they were led to believe that Hotel California in Todos Santos is connected to the song and that is clearly not the case.
The owners of Hotel California have responded to the lawsuit stating that the establishment dates to 1950, twenty-six years before Eagles rolled out their fifth album and hence they could not have borrowed the name from the song to capitalize on its popularity. Indeed, the business was registered and operated as Hotel California since it was first opened but it had undergone many changes, both in business name and ownership. The hotel was renamed as Hotel California in 2001 when the property was purchased by Debbie and John Stewart, who are the current owners. The Eagles have alleged that the owners were aware of the popularity of the song and the album and have purposefully renamed the hotel to revive its business.