Editor’s Note: New developments have occurred related to this story, click here for the latest.
PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (ABC4 News) – A Utah business owner is suing Taylor Swift for alleged trademark infringement. Following news of the lawsuit, the man said he’s receiving backlash for it.
Late last year, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released her ninth album, ‘Evermore’.
The album’s title caught Evermore theme park founder Ken Bretschneider off-guard.
“I was pretty disheartened that she was using our brand,” he said. “We do business as ‘Evermore’ and that’s our brand and all of a sudden there was ‘Evermore’ Taylor Swift everywhere.”
He told ABC4 News the ‘Evermore’ name was created with the idea that the park would create a magical atmosphere for guests.
Bretschneider said his Utah business operates under the name, ‘Evermore’, and the park has been around for three years now – celebrating medieval villages, myths, and legends.
Alleged trademark infringement
When Bretschneider learned of Swift’s album sharing the same name as his business, he knew her legal team was aware of his trademark.
“Her attorneys went in and filed for trademarks on top of our trademarks under the same categories that we filed our trademarks under the name of ‘Evermore,’” he said. “Not just ‘Taylor Swift Evermore’ but ‘Evermore.’”
Prior to filing a lawsuit for alleged trademark infringement, Bretschneider said he wrote a letter to Swift’s team.
“Their attorneys claimed it was all frivolous,” he said, “and basically told us they’re not going to change it.”
Part of the lawsuit against Swift claims her record-breaking album has led to ‘confused guests and negatively affected the park’s searchability on Google.’
A quick Google search Thursday showed Evermore Park listed as number one. But following Swift’s album release, Bretschneider said that was not true.
“For the past month, it’s all been Taylor Swift at the top,” he said. “The only reason Evermore Park has come back in is because all the press has picked up the story about the lawsuit.”
About the lawsuit, Bretschneider said there are no ulterior motives to it.
“We’re not trying to discredit Taylor Swift, this is something they did – it’s not something we did,” the business owner said.
Since news broke about Bretschneider’s lawsuit against Swift, he said the backlash has been brutal.
“Taylor Swift’s PR team has gone out and made me look like the worst possible person on the planet,” he said. “I’ve had people sending me death threats, I’ve had people telling me to kill myself and people who have never been to our park giving one-star reviews.”
For Bretschneider, he said the lawsuit is a way for him to protect his brand, telling ABC4 News the Swift team did not ever contact him, rather, “they just used it and went forward with it.”
“We just don’t want to be stomped on by a much larger group,” he said.
Response to statement
In a statement, Swift’s spokesperson wrote this lawsuit is a frivolous claim – citing a Utah Businesses report that the park faces financial ruin and owes millions of dollars to contractors who helped construct the park.
Bretschneider acknowledged his three-year-old business has struggled.
“For Swift and their PR group saying that we’re just doing it because we’re in financial dire straits – which is really true, we are in financial dire straits, we have a hard time – but we’re doing it to save Evermore and to make money,” Bretschneider said.
But he told ABC4 News that he and his business are in good standing with the contractors, noting they are making monthly payments.
Looking ahead to the future, Bretschneider recognizes his business is young, but said he’s working to grow it – just like any other person or business.
“Taylor Swift started somewhere. Everyone starts somewhere,” he said.
For Swift fans, Bretschneider said he doesn’t want people to think he’s attacking her, rather, it’s because “they used our brand” – which he said creates problems for their business.