From a press release I just received. This is even crazier, since singer-songwriter Lennon was named after John Lennon -- and had apparently been okay to use the name for her musical use.
An open letter from Lennon:
Yesterday I received notice that Yoko Ono had filed a law suit against me, asking for a cancellation of the trademark that I own for the name "Lennon." This could very well mean the career that I have worked so hard at, the one you all have believed in, may come to an end. I wanted to address the situation to all my fans because without you I am nothing and it's not fair to everyone who has believed in my music not to be properly informed of this pure bullshit.
When I first started playing music at 14, I was known for the most part as "The Lennon Murphy Band." Not a name I was very fond of, no one could ever agree on anything so it made sense. A few months later some of the shows started being marketed using my full name as well as some that just using "Lennon." There was never really any consistency but there was well enough to justify stating that "Lennon" had been used in fact since 1997. When I signed with Arista Records in 2000 at the age of 18, a marketing decision was made to continue being known just as Lennon. In all honesty, I didn't care. I was just happy to sign a record deal, make an album, and pay my bills.
Lennon is my first name by birth and I am regularly asked if I was named after the Beatle, having always replied no. My mother named me after "John Lennon that wrote songs, painted, and baked bread with his son." She named me for the man, not the pop star.
In 2000 Arista Records addressed the issue of Yoko Ono potentially having a problem with our use of the name. My product manager at Arista was ironically the son of the lawyer who actually represents Yoko. So he approached Yoko, to make her aware of the use, evidently giving her blessing as Arista proceeded forward with the album release and at the same time filing for the trademark. Its takes time for all of the legal work to go through, but finally in 2003 I was granted by the United States Patent & Trademark office the ownership in the name Lennon for musical use.
8 long hard years pass and no one says a word. Just 2 days before the statue of limitations was up this very same lawyer we went to in 2000 filed their complaint, accusing me of falsely representing myself and causing confusion in the market place that has damaged to the John Lennon name.
I'm not sure what confusion I could be causing since I don't have the $50,000 to hire a lawyer and fight this. If people were confusing me with John Lennon and accidentally buying my records I should have more than enough money to live my life and hire a lawyer? I wish that was the case. I haven't worked since Oct. 2007, so I live on just enough to get through the months until I get back on the road. I have no idea what I'm going to do yet in this situation, and I'm stressed, angry, and scared.
This is my life. I have no respect for the name Murphy. It was my father's name we will leave it at that. I have represented myself as Lennon because this is my name. That was the name that meant so much to my mother. That's who I am. I'm pissed and hurt that someone in Yoko's position has nothing better to do than fuck with my life, and collect the $25,000,000 a year that the John Lennon estate brings in. Yes, this is a real number or close enough to it. This is how I look at it. With that kind of income she probably pays more in taxes every year then you or I will make in our whole life time. So what do I have that can be of such value to her after 8 years? I don't want to lose my name all because someone is bored in their life of luxury.
I don't know what's going to be the outcome, but I just wanted everyone to know what is going on. I never falsified my intentions, I never used John Lennon for my benefit, and I never took one cent out of Yoko's bank account. I play music, my name is Lennon, and the most heartbreaking thing out of this whole situation is the insult it gives to my late mother and who she believed in; on top of demeaning the man that John Lennon was and will always be.
Also from the email:
I saw Lennon a few years ago and she was downright terrible, but I feel bad for her situation.