Nevada ‘Platters’ singer facing trademark lawsuit

The Platters — known for songs like "The Great Pretender" — are the subject of yet another trademark lawsuit involving performers claiming to have the right to use the "Platters" name.

Herb Reed Enterprises of Arlington, Mass., filed suit Thursday in U.S. District Court for Nevada against Las Vegas company Monroe Powell’s Platters, alleging trademark infringement.

Attorneys for Reed said in the lawsuit he founded The Platters in 1953 and, after some lineup changes, the 1954 incarnation of the group included what are sometimes known as the five "original" Platters: Reed, Paul Robi, David Lynch, Tony Williams and Zola Taylor.

The group gained fame with songs such as "Only You," and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."

Records show "The Great Pretender" lyrics were written in a washroom of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas by Buck Ram, who became the group’s manager in 1954.

Over the years several original members left the group and Ram and Reed parted ways in 1969, the suit says.

Reed continued to perform using "The Platters" name and Ram separately promoted new "Platters" groups, the suit says.

It says Monroe Powell was hired around 1970 to perform for one of Ram’s "Platters" groups.

Since then, the suit says, a dizzying number of lawsuits have been litigated over the "Platters" name with Reed most recently suing Powell on Thursday.

"Defendants (Powell) were never members of the original group and have no rights in the mark 'The Platters,'" the suit says. "They are nonetheless wrongfully using the mark in promoting their vocal group, representing either explicitly or implicitly that they are the same group as the original."

The lawsuit says Powell lives in Henderson. A message for comment on the suit was placed for his company.

On its website, Powell’s group says he is "the lead tenor for the Platters for more years than any other lead tenor."

And a letter from Powell’s attorney to Reed’s attorney filed with the lawsuit says: "I have found no authority that confers upon Mr. Reed any rights to the name 'The Platters' and no authority that confers upon Mr. Reed any right to prevent Mr. Powell from performing under the names 'Monroe Powell and the Platters,' 'Monroe Powell's Platters' or similar names that qualify the name 'The Platters.'"

Reed is represented in the lawsuit by attorneys at Sommers Law PLLC in Portsmouth, N.H.; and at Lewis and Roca LLP in Las Vegas.

Powell is represented by the firm DaCorsi Placencio & Rumsey PC with offices in the Los Angeles and Las Vegas areas.