The iconic American rock band The Eagles released its platinum album “Hotel California” in December of 1976. It sold more than 32 million copies worldwide and its title track “Hotel California” achieved legendary status. Over four decades later, it appears the “lovely place” on a “dark desert highway” might actually exist, but not how the band envisioned.
The Eagles launched a trademark infringement action last Monday against a small hotel in Todos Santos, Mexico with a familiar name – Hotel California. Described on its website as a “sub-tropical oasis” just 45 minutes outside Cabo San Lucas, Hotel California was founded in 1948, when the Eagles were just toddlers. The hotel was later named “Todos Santos Hotel” and underwent numerous transitions in ownership concluding with current owners John and Debbie Stewart, a Canadian couple who bought the establishment in 2001. Thereafter, the hotel’s original name was restored allegedly to deceive guests into associating the property with The Eagles.
In its complaint, the band cites as evidence of infringement the hotel’s Eagles-themed lobby music and gift shop merchandise bearing the brand “Legendary.” The Eagles also identify numerous customer reviews which indicate that guests routinely perceive an affiliation between the hotel and The Eagles. The hotel appears to reinforce this perception by listing on its website a series of “coincidences” wedding the hotel to the world-famous song. For instance, the website advertises that Hotel California sits near a “long desert highway,” neighbors a mission church with bells heard daily, hosts “ghosts and spirits” in the courtyard, and previously accommodated guests who smoked “colitas” (a slang term for joint) during the 1960s and 70s.
In response, The Eagles are flexing their talons. The band seeks injunctive relief, actual damages, profits, and punitive damages against the hotel (and maybe a complimentary colita).