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Jellyroll vs. Jelly Roll: Band sues country singer for using the name

A Pennsylvania wedding band says the country singer infringed on their trademark of the musical moniker Jellyroll.
Jellyroll vs. Jelly Roll: Band sues country singer for using the name
Posted at 8:27 PM, Apr 16, 2024

The term "jelly roll" was once only known for being a sweet, sponge cake dessert you'd probably find at your grandma's house. Then came the musician Jelly Roll, and now the term isn't only a food; it's a person, too. But there's a third jelly roll wanting in on the list — a list they claim they started decades ago.

See, Jellyroll is also the name of a wedding band from Pennsylvania that says the Grammy-nominated country singer under the same stage name but in two words has infringed upon its trademark of the moniker.

In a lawsuit filed against Jelly Roll — whose real name is Jason DeFord — on April 8, the creator of the Jellyroll band, Kurt L. Titchenell, states his band has been using the name since 1980 but first registered it as a performing musical group with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2010, most recently renewing the registration in 2019 to last until 2029 at the earliest.

Now Titchenell says DeFord must stop using the name by law, claiming his alleged infringement on the band's trademark has caused consumer confusion and deception leading him to financial injury and harm, the suit states.

According to a Philadelphia wedding band website run by Titchenell, Jellyroll started in 1980 as a "group of guys who really enjoyed playing music" that soon took over the city's club scene. They eventually started booking private events, including "luxury weddings," and became one of the "hottest bands in the Philly area," the site states.

Each year, the band performs at more than 120 events in the Northeast, but the site states they've performed across the country over the years, including two performances at the White House at former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush's invitations. 

Titchenell stresses that the band's name recognition has played a part in its success. The suit alleges a search for Jellyroll online would have returned results related to the band before DeFord came onto the scene as Jelly Roll. Now, Titchenell claims his group is as many as 18 to 20 references behind the country singer. 

In February, the plaintiff sent a cease-and-desist letter to DeFord, whose counsel allegedly "inquired as to whether defendant really was in competition with plaintiff," the suit says. And now that Jelly Roll's upcoming Beautifully Broken Tour has appearances planned in the Northeast, including Philadelphia, Titchenell says DeFord's "unapologetic continuing infringing acts" will cause further issues, such as confusion as to which "Jellyroll" will be at certain events.

"Defendant's unauthorized use of plaintiff's mark Jelly Roll in interstate commerce, and especially in the Northeast of the U.S. in connection with live musical performances … is causing, has already caused, and will continue to cause … actual confusion, mistake, and deception," the suit states, seeking injunctive relief against the country singer.

DeFord has said in interviews that his stage name stems from a nickname his mom gave him as a child, telling CBS in January that she still calls him "Jelly."

SEE MORE: Country singer Jelly Roll testifies at Senate hearing on fentanyl bill

Though he launched his career under the moniker in the early 2000s, Jelly Roll's stardom didn't really take off until May 2022, when he got his first No. 1 radio hit with the rock song "Dead Man Walking." 

In January of 2023, his country song "Son of a Sinner" went No. 1, and the next month he made history by sitting at No. 1 on Billboard's Emerging Artists chart for a 25th week.

Later in 2023, Jelly Roll won New Artist of the Year at the 2023 CMA Awards and snagged all three CMT Music Awards that he was nominated for. In 2024, he was nominated for best new artist at the Grammy Awards. 

But his life outside of music has also put him under the spotlight, notably for how his life has changed since spending time in jail for aggravated robbery and drug dealing (a "troubled past" that Titchenell says in his lawsuit has further harmed his image as Jellyroll).

Earlier this year, DeFord testified before Congress in support of anti-fentanyl legislation and reflected on how his past landed him there. 

"I was a part of the problem. I am here now, standing as a man that wants to be a part of the solution," he said before a Senate committee.

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