Guns N’ Roses Back on Tour With Lawyer to Hunt Bootleg T-Shirts

Guns N’ Roses went on tour this month for the first time in nearly two years, including an August 3 concert in Boston’s Fenway Park, where front row seats fetched $2,000 each Were. But along with their roadies, instruments, and stage props, the rock band brought its own lawyers as well.

As fans return to music venues closed since the start of the pandemic, so do unlicensed souvenir apparel, such as T-shirts and bandanas, sold by vendors on nearby streets. Guns N’ Roses is suing Tour cities to combat illegal smugglers, who deprive them of tens of thousands – sometimes hundreds of thousands – of dollars per night of merchandise sales.

Kenneth Feinvog, an attorney for Global Merchandising Services Ltd., said in a court filing in New Jersey the day before the band’s August, “These bootleggers are, frankly and simply, parasites, which are fueled by the artists’ tremendous energy and reputation. take advantage of the wrong way.” 5 concerts at MetLife Stadium. The company has an exclusive license to sell GNR merchandise at US concerts.

Branded products remained big business for the band, which rose to fame in the late 1980s with hits such as “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Court filings show, GNR has sold over 40 million recordings and over $15 million in merchandise. Its trademark is owned by lead vocalist Axl Rose, guitarist Saul “Slash” Hudson and bassist Michael “Duff” McKagan.

On GNR’s merchandise website, fans can purchase everything from a $25 branded shirt to a $500 leather jacket, as well as a $35 top-hat skull belt buckle, $30 yo-yo and 500-piece jigsaw puzzle for $25. Knockoffs sold on street corners at concerts cut off demand for authorized products and the band receives no money.

The music business is no stranger to legal battles over trademarks and copyrights. Jayne Durden, vice president of law firm strategy at intellectual property management firm Anaqua in Boston, said lawsuits such as GNR target street-level vendors, rather than large manufacturers and distributors of bootleg products, are less common. Still, it can be surprisingly effective in discouraging illegal sales, even if few bootleggers ever show up for court and most cases die, she said.

“It’s Whac-A-Mole, but with a big pedal that makes some noise,” said Durden, based in New Alexandria, Virginia.