May 01, 2015
HARD vs EDC As Gary Richards Sues Pasquale Rotella

Image via Billboard.

Looks like there’s trouble in paradise: Gary Richards, aka Destructo, the ­founder of HARD Events, has filed a trademark suit against Insomniac Events CEO Pasquale Rotella in order to cancel Rotella’s use of the Electric Daisy Carnival name, according to a Billboard report.

Richards, who allegedly founded EDC in 1991, is seeking payment for use of the name. The story goes that Rotella received verbal ­permission from Richards to use the EDC name following Richards’ departure from the event circuit. Under Rotella’s guiding hand, the festival has grown to encompass two major annual weekend-long events in Las Vegas and New York, and the event series sits at the forefront of electronic dance music. “The EDC mark is one of the most well-known brands in music,” John Ingram, a lawyer with Stone Meyer Genow Smelkinson and Binder in Beverly Hills, said. “If Insomniac were forced to license the mark, it wouldn’t come cheap.”

Rotella and Richards have been competitors in the promotional scene dating back to the early ’90s, and both have different ideologies about the direction music festivals should head–Rotella’s events focus on the rave experience, replete with ferris wheels, costumes, and stadium-sized dancefloors; Richards is more of a music purist and wants to distance himself from the rave experience, opting instead to create a more traditional music festival.

In 2007, Richards proposed a 50/50 partnership with Rotella for HARD but was rebuffed, although Rotella tells Billboard he attempted to get ownership of Hard during his negotiations with Live Nation. “I’m guessing [Richards] is ­having a difficult time adjusting to that,” Rotella said, “which makes me feel like [the petition] is being done out of spite. It’s sad.”

It is interesting to note that in an interview LessThan3 conducted with Richards at Coachella 2012, he stated “[Pasquale] asked me if he could use the name and I was like ‘sure, why not? I work at a label.’ I respect Pasquale a lot; he’s done an amazing job with his brand, and he’s really helped carry the torch of dance music far in America.”

Live Nation, who owns both companies, has declined to comment on the situation, as has Richards.

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