Black Flag founder Greg Ginn has lost the initial round of argument in his lawsuit against Keith Morris’ spin-off Black Flag act, FLAG. Ginn was suing FLAG members Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena, Bill Stevenson, and Stephen Egerton, in addition to Henry Rollins, saying that there could only be one Black Flag, and that he held the rights to that name. Ginn called for the dissolution of FLAG, as well as some sort of restitution from Rollins, who he claims has been attempting to use and abuse the legacy of the group. According to Ginn, both Morris and Rollins have, at some point, manufactured and sold bootleg Black Flag records and T-shirts.
Given that who is or isn’t in Black Flag at any given point has always been a bit fluid, the courts weren’t exactly too sympathetic to Ginn. The judge ruling against him found that SST Records has no rights to the Black Flag copyright, and that Ginn has no special rights to any of Black Flag’s logos or trademarks. Furthermore, even if Ginn had at one point held rights to those trademarks, he’s basically let anyone use them for the past 30 years—meaning that now he’s forfeited any right to contest their use. The court also ruled that (gasp!) Rollins never actually quit Black Flag, since there’s no physical evidence that he severed his relationship with the band. The judge also gave the band’s fans credit for being at least a little smart, saying that “there was no likelihood of consumer confusion between Black Flag and FLAG given the ample press coverage over the dispute.”
In summary, everyone can keep their Black Flag bars tattoos in good conscience.