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A Conscious Few

Bobby Oliver: Drums | Ryan Cadigan: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric), Keyboards | Aaron Spaulding: Bass guitar | Sean Jenkins: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric), Vocals

Genre: Blues & Soul, Reggae & Ska, Rock

RIYL: Sublime, the Long Beach Dub All-Stars, Stolen, Strive Roots

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Synoposis

Influences: Pink Floyd, Pepper, Strive Roots, Bob Marley, Sublime, NOFX

Background:

“We got a cease-and-desist letter over the title of our album The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Morality," said Aaron Spaulding of a Conscious Few. “The CD came out last October [2008], and we just got the letter last week.”

Dated June 2009, the notice from the NYC law firm of Von Maltitz, Derenberg, Kunin, Janssen & Giordano says their client, Penguin Books, “strongly objects to your unauthorized use of its registered trademark The Complete Idiot’s Guide," presenting two federal trademark registration numbers to back up its assertion of ownership. Both of the registered marks are applicable to commerce involving “a series of non-fiction books” – neither mark is pertinent to recorded music.

However, the letter further alleges that the band’s CD cover is “a point-by-point counterfeit of our client’s well-known trademark…[with] the same blue capital letters, in the same type style and layout,” right down to the “orange rectangle with the same proportions, orientation, and cover location” as the Penguin books.

Which is true; the album even uses a similar orange border. “We looked at it as a parody,” says Spaulding. “They didn’t have to come off like bullies, with a big New York law firm. There are maybe 100 to 150 of the CDs out there. It cost us $2500 to press 1000, so we still have boxes of them.”

According to Penguin Group (USA) Inc, its Complete Idiot’s Guide series debuted 15 years ago, with sales averaging around 1.25 million print and ebooks last year. Complete Idiots have been Guided through topics like World Religions, Understanding Ethics, Peer Pressure for Teens, and music subjects like Arranging and Orchestration; Theory, History, Songwriting; and Playing the Guitar.

The legal salvo fired across the reggae band’s bow gives them until July 30 to provide “written assurance that you will promptly cease all use of our client’s trademark and trade dress.” Though parody has long-established legal protections that tend to trump trademarks, Spaulding says, “We’ll go along, it’s not worth getting sued. We’ll probably take them off CB Baby, iTunes, and Amazon, and just give them away as promotional items.”

In October 2009, the band changed the album title to Cease and Desist. In 2011, bassist Aaron Spaulding formed a new heavy rock band with former members of October Burning and the Human Abstract, whose old vocalist Nate Ells had recently moved to San Diego from Nashville.

Discography

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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