Non-Original Autograph Members Suing Co-Founder for Band Trademark
Steve Lynch, the founding guitarist for '80s hard rockers Autograph, is speaking out after being sued by current members of the band over the group's trademark.
The guitarist detailed his current legal dilemma in a lengthy Facebook post, stating, “Today I speak as a defendant to my own legacy in a lawsuit filed by Daniel Simoni (aka Simon Daniels) and Marc Wieland. The lawsuit claims that they are Autograph and the sole owners of the trademark which I have no rights to. After a 40-year career creating the band and the trademark, the absurdity of this claim defies reality and is beyond rational thinking, as well as the law.”
He further adds, "To be clear, the legacy I will defend was created by my band brothers Randy Reid, Steve Plunkett, Steve Isham and Keni Richards. As the 'defendant' to my own legacy in this lawsuit, I share this experience with every fan that has sung the words to 'Turn Up the Radio,' and every artist that has created original music that endures and transcends time. We know that no matter who performs our songs, Autograph will always be the five original members who created those songs. And those who cover them are understood to be the musicians who play ass a tribute band in our honor."
Lynch and bassist Randy Rand reunited under the group name in 2013, which is when they added Daniels on vocals and rhythm guitar with Marc Weiland added on a drums a year later. Lynch exited the group in 2019 to pursue other projects, with the band adding Jimi Bell after his exit. Then, earlier this year, Rand died, with the group then adding Steve Unger to round out their current lineup.
Lynch was a member of the group from 1983-1989, during which the band released their gold-selling Sign In Please album in 1984, followed by 1985's That's the Stuff and 1987's Loud and Clear. He also appeared on the group's 2016 and 2017 albums, Louder and Get Off Your Ass, that also featured Simoni and Weiland.
Simoni and Weiland filed their suit against Lynch seeking declaratory relief. In their filing, it states, "Defendant Lynch claims the sole ownership of the trademark in the Band Name and is entitled to compensation for the use of the Band Name. Plaintiffs deny and dispute that Defendant Lynch has any rights to the trademark in the Band Name and denies that Defendant Lynch is entitled to any compensation from the performances of Plaintiffs using the Band Name."
In his post, Lynch notes, “As Randy was hospitalized in a coma, I heard nothing from Simoni, Wieland or Bell. During this difficult time, I received many condolences from the other gracious members who played in the band and recorded with us as Autograph over the years, none ever made the ridiculous claim that the band was theirs.”
Within his post, Lynch contests the band's ability to continue, stating that the group had a "no sell-out" policy in which an original member must be involved to continue. “This position was consistently communicated in conversations, emails and in the standard cease and desist letter,” says the guitarist.
Within his post, Lynch added a photo copy of the legal documents in which he is being sued over the band name and trademark. He describes the lawsuit at "frivolous and grasping," adding, “The reality check is that these guys can NOT get the gigs or album opportunities on their own merits—they need to use what the original members created to appear relevant. 'Desperate people do desperate things’ is an understatement.”
Lynch concludes, “Although a lawsuit was not welcomed, I will fully engage in this legal battle and the courts will offer a transparent record in this frivolous lawsuit to steal the legacy and its profits from the original owners."
The current lineup of Autograph released a new album, Beyond, earlier this month. While Lynch does not appear on the record, Rand recorded his parts prior to his passing earlier this year.