By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Tom Scholz, the leader and principal songwriter of the band Boston, is suing his former bandmate Barry Goudreau, accusing the guitarist of trademark infringement.
In the lawsuit filed this week in US District Court in Boston, Scholz claims Goudreau's "persistent, unauthorized, and willful misuse" of Boston-related trademarks exaggerates his role in the band and "deprives Scholz of his ability to control fully the nature and quality of all (Boston) products and services ... and harms the valuable reputation and goodwill" of the band.
Attempts to reach Goudreau Thursday were unsuccessful.
In the suit, Scholz's attorney, Erik Paul Belt, goes to great lengths to minimize Goudreau's contribution to Boston's first two albums, the only two he played on. (Boston's self-titled debut, released in 1976, sold more than 17 million copies; the second LP, "Don't Look Back," released two years later, sold 7 million copies.)
According to the lawsuit, Goudreau was a member of Boston for just three years of the band's 37-year history, and played guitar on only two of the eight songs on the first album, and four of the eight songs on the second. After leaving Boston, the suit claims, Goudreau signed an agreement giving him 20 percent of royalties from all of the songs on the first two albums but giving him "no interest, right nor title to the name ‘Boston.' " Under the agreement, Goudreau was allowed to use the phrase "formerly of Boston" to advertise future performances.
But Goudreau has repeatedly violated that deal, according to Scholz's lawsuit. In promotional materials, the suits states, Goudreau has referred to himself as "Barry Goudreau from Boston," "Barry Goudreau of the Multi-Platinum Group Boston," and, in an advertisement for an appearance last summer with James Montgomery, "Barry Goudreau Lead Guitarist Rock Legend from the Band Boston."
As a result, according to the lawsuit, Scholz has suffered monetary damages. Scholz is seeking to prevent Goudreau from using Boston-related trademarks or "suggesting in any manner" that he is currently affiliated with the band. He also wants to rescind the agreement giving Goudreau any royalties.
This is the second legal action Scholz has taken in recent months seeking more control of the Boston brand. He's also trying to terminate an agreement he made in 1975 with the band's original co-manager, Paul Ahern, and reclaim the copyrights to Boston's early hits, including "More Than a Feeling," "Long Time," and "Peace of Mind."
In March, a judge dismissed the defamation lawsuit Scholz had filed against The Boston Herald related to its coverage of the 2007 suicide of Boston's lead singer, Brad Delp.