published Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Legal battle brews over name change to Rocky Top

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A former coal mining town's effort to revive its fortunes by changing its name to Rocky Top has hit a snag.

A development group has promised to turn the tiny East Tennessee town of Lake City into a tourist mecca if it goes through with the name change. The plan is to cash in on the fame of the song "Rocky Top," a bluegrass standard that has been recorded over the years by Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell and others.

But Gatlinburg-based House of Bryant, which owns the rights to the song and multiple Rocky Top trademarks, is suing.

House of Bryant was founded by country composers Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, who wrote "Rocky Top" in 1967. A complaint filed Monday in federal court in Knoxville claims the name change would injure the reputation, goodwill and business value of House of Bryant's Rocky Top trademarks.

House of Bryant is seeking an injunction to prevent Lake City from changing its name, plus court costs and damages.

There is no actual town of Rocky Top, Tenn. The lawsuit says the Bryants "were instead referring to a fictional or idyllic place" in their song. Last year, a group of East Tennessee public officials and businessmen began promoting the idea of creating a real Rocky Top. The group promised to help build a massive tourist complex in Lake City, a town of about 1,800 people, if it legally changed its name.

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