TTMA/TEAM EMBROILED IN LEGAL BATTLE
By RAMIRO BURR
Special to the Onda network
SAN ANTONIO (Oct. 14) -- Two music industry trade organizations are fighting in state district court here over who has proprietary rights to produce a Tejano music awards show.
The legal battle is unfolding as the Tejano Music Awards 1998-1999 season gets underway with a series of preliminary events including kickoff parties, a music conference and nominees dance.
The Texas Talent Musicians Association(TTMA), producers of the annual Tejano Music Awards, filed a lawsuit in 150th State District Court on Aug. 26 against Rudy Trevino and the new Tejano Entertainers and Music Association(TEMA).
In its lawsuit, TTMA alleged that TEMA is creating confusion in the similarity of the organizations' names. Complicating the matter is the fact that Trevino was a co-founder of the TTMA and the Tejano Music Awards, which recognize the best Tejano artists in a People's Choice-type awards ceremony. For 18 years he served as TTMA's executive director until last July when he resigned his post. He immediately formed TEMA with the stated goal of recognizing "Hispanic entertainers and musicians in the entertainers industry."
However, the TTMA is alleging Trevino and TEMA are trying to produce a mirror awards program and unfairly using the confusion in group names and what TTMA considers proprietary business information to approach sponsors and other clients.
"A lot of people in the music industry, from record labels and band managers got back to us, telling us they did not know who was calling," said Robert Arellano, TTMA board president. "When you hear TTMA or TEMA, you have confusion right away, that was very obvious. We wanted to put things in perspective, we are the original TTMA, and we didn't want someone competing against us using the same name."
When TTMA filed its Aug. 26 lawsuit, it also sought and obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent Trevino from contacting any TTMA sponsors or utilizing any marketing techniques, mailing lists or other propriety information owned by the TTMA. The restraining order was later reduced in scope and eventually dismissed on Sept. 7.
The next day, Trevino's attorney Ricardo Navarro filed a countersuit claiming the TTMA was unfairly trying to stop Trevino and his enterprise as well as damaging his reputation.
"We are denying all their (TTMA) claims," Navarro said. "We are arguing that Trevino has the right, like any individual, to earn a livelihood."
"Mr. Trevino spent a long time with TTMA but he can leave and do anything he wants. And ultimately, anyone can put on an awards show."
The litigation is pending a court date. But privately, both parties said they expect to work out their differences in out-of-court negotiations.
The Tejano Music Awards are scheduled March 20 at the Alamodome while the TEMA Awards have been scheduled Feb. 27 at the Municipal Auditorium. Both organizations have scheduled kickoff parties and nominees dances. The TTMA has scheduled its annual Tejano Music Conference on Nov. 6-7 at the Institute of Texan Cultures.
(Ramiro Burr is a music reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and correspondent for Billboard. Burr is also the author of the forthcoming book "The Billboard Guide to Tejano and regional/Mexican Music," due in April 1999 on Billboard Books. Burr can be reached at 1-800-555-1551, ext 3429 or through e-mail at email@example.com)