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Eagles v. Hotel California: After Lawsuit, Band Reaches A Settlement

The Hotel California was, according to a case filed against it by legendary rock band The Eagles, living it up a little too much. The rock band sued the Mexico-based hotel, which shares a name with the band's iconic 1976 song, resulting in a settlement Thursday. The settlement's terms were not disclosed.

The Eagles accused the Hotel California, located on the Baja California peninsula, of trying to trick visitors into thinking that it is one and the same as the "lovely place" of its most-successful song.

In court documents, the rock band claims that the song, from the album of the same name, wafts through the lobby, while merchandise in the gift shop describes it as the "legendary" hotel. "Such a designation only makes sense," the plaintiffs wrote in their complaint, if the hotel is "somehow connected with the Eagles' famous and legendary song, which it is not."

In fact, the hotel was originally named Hotel California in 1950, predating the song. But according to court documents, its name had been changed, to Todos Santos Hotel, before it was bought in 2001 and branded again as Hotel California. The Mexico-based hotel also filed an application in 2015 to trademark the phrase "Hotel California" in the U.S., and according to the complaint was selling "substantial" Hotel California merchandise in the U.S.

While the terms of the parties' mutual agreement haven't been made public, it happened less than a week after the hotel told the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that it was abandoning its trademark application.

The Eagles had not previously filed an application to trademark the phrase. The Eagles argue that, because Hotel California is so widely associated with the rock band and used on its merchandise, it has owned it by "common law rights" since the late 1970s. (After the hotel filed an application, the band filed one of its own.)

Because the agreement is confidential, it's not clear whether the hotel will continue to sell Hotel California merchandise. According to a statement from the hotel's lawyer, "the Hotel and its affiliates will continue to use the service mark and trademark 'Hotel California' in Mexico."

The lawyer added that it "the Hotel claims no association with the Eagles or with [its] song and record album Hotel California." It said in court documents that it is "not likely" that there would be "confusion, deception or mistake" about whether it was linked to the Eagles.

Funnily enough, the band itself was accused of using the photo on the cover of Hotel California without permission, according the BBC.

"While the song is not based on any particular place, the building pictured on the album cover is the Beverly Hills Hotel," the broadcaster reports. "Ironically, the band used the photo without permission, nearly landing them in court, until it was pointed out that the hotel had seen its bookings triple after the album was released."

In another Eagles-related case filed this week, the widow of founding member Glenn Frey is suing Mount Sinai Hospital over his "wrongful death." Cindy Frey said in the lawsuit that her husband died in 2016 as a result of negligence by the hospital and its doctors.

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Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.