Composers Chris Ballew and Tad Hutchinson -- known as the musical duo Chris and Tad -- have filed suit against BMW of North America and Crispin Porter + Bogusky over a pair of songs used in spots for BMW's MINI. According to the suit, filed last month in Los Angeles, the duo licensed the tracks "Sunshine Pig" and "Cold Busted" to MINI for use in spots titled "This is America" and "Trucker Hour," respectively. However, the suit alleges that the tracks were used beyond the scope set out in a pair of licensing agreements. In particular, the suit states that both tracks were licensed for dealer television commercials and internet use for one year beginning in March 2002, while an additional license was negotiated that granted permission to use "Sunshine Pig" in the commercial "This is America" on network television during the last week of 2002. The suit -- which asserts claims of copyright infringement, misappropriation of name and likeness, and unfair competition -- alleges that "This is America" aired on network television beyond the timeframe of the latter agreement, and that both songs were distributed in media not covered by either agreement, including on a promotional CD-ROM of MINI commercials distributed by BMW. "This is America" -- among the first MINI spots created by CP+B -- won a Silver Lion last year at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes.
"We've been trying to resolve this in an amiable fashion for over a year and haven't reached any resolution," says Staci Slater, who manages Chris and Tad -- a collaboration between Presidents of the United States of America frontman Chris Ballew and former Young Fresh Fellows drummer Hutchinson. Meanwhile, Maura Wogan, an attorney representing BMW and CP+B in the matter, says the suit's allegations are "factually incorrect" and that "there is no basis in law or fact for the claims."