Feld Entertainment claims that Kid Rock is infringing on the “Greatest Show on Earth” phrase and that he is diluting the meaning of the phrase. Feld CEO and Chairman offered this statement, “This historic trademark has been an important part of Ringling Bros. for the past century, and it is recognized as a trusted and iconic brand of family-friendly entertainment.” The CEO said that the company has no intention of retiring the trademark, despite the circus being defunct. The lawsuit was brought in Federal Court in Florida. Rock’s arena tour was scheduled to begin on January 19, 2018.
Live Natio has also been named as a defendant in the suit for producing the tour with the phrase. Feld is a massive corporation that runs major touring shows including Disney on Ice, Sesame Street Live, and Monster Jam. This is not the first time that Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, has made national headlines. This year, rumors circulated that he was making a run for senate.
Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus had experienced years of declining sales as they tried to compete with other modes of consumer entertainment. Animal rights activists had also worked hard to end the use of animal performances in their shows. PETA issued this statement celebrating the closure of the circus:
“[The circus’ closure] heralds the end of what has been the saddest show on earth for wild animals, and asks all other animal circuses to follow suit, as this is a sign of changing times.”
According to the complaint filed by Feld, the company had earned more than $50 million annually in the last five years from goods/services sole under the trademarked phrase. Whether that trend would have continued without circus shows is unclear. It could be that Feld plans to revamp the circus into an acrobatic based show and plans to use the phrase to promote any upcoming show.