Big Chief Bo Dollis reclaims Wild Magnolias totem

Big Chief Bo Dollis has regained title to the name Wild Magnolias after a decade-long dispute between former manager Glenn Gaines and members of the Mardi Gras Indian gang.

Bo Dollis Sr. and Jr. at Jazz in the Park, May 24, 2012. Photo: Kim Welsh.

“Bo Dollis is now the exclusive owner of the Wild Magnolias trademark,” explains Dollis family lawyer Ashlye Keaton, “which is used to label the musical services of the Wild Magnolias. It has to be a Bo Dollis-approved lineup rather than a random group of musicians calling themselves the Wild Magnolias, which has been happening.”

Monk Boudreaux, a childhood friend of Dollis who co-led the touring version of the Wild Magnolias, left the Magnolias in 2001 in a dispute with Gaines. Bo Dollis broke ties with Gaines after suffering a stroke post-Katrina and turning the leadership of the touring band over to his son Gerard “Bo Jr.” Dollis. In recent years several different lineups of Wild Magnolias have performed in public, leading to confusion on many fronts.

Gaines registered “Wild Magnolias” as a service mark with the Louisiana Secretary of State office in 2001, listing himself and Bo Dollis as applicants.

“If I was looking to do something maliciously, I would have put it just in my name,” Gaines later told Keith Spera.

Dollis claims that Gaines no longer represents him and applied for a federal service mark in his name with Keaton’s help. The papers have recently come through and Keaton declares that the new license supersedes the 2001 document.

“That was just a state trademark,” she says. “The state trademark protects the rights of the trademark if it’s used in the state of Louisiana. The federal mark affords the owner of the mark more power as far as protecting and enforcing the rights in connection with the mark. Without that mark you can’t file a lawsuit in federal court for trademark infringement. It’s extended nationwide and it also gives you an opportunity to apply for an international trademark through the national copyright association. A trademark in Louisiana doesn’t extend to other states. It’s very difficult to use it to enforce your rights outside of the state of Louisiana. There was a festival in Portland, Oregon where a group showed up portraying themselves as the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians and we didn’t know anything about it.

“We can now file for trademark infringement with the federal mark. Another problem we had is that another party was trying to prevent Bo from using the mark, so we needed to procure the federal mark to ensure he could exercise those rights.”

The very happy result of this untangling of legal threads is that Bo is now clear to turn the band over to his son Gerard as well as resume his working relation with Monk Boudreaux. From now on it’s not going to be called the Wild Magnolias without them.

“Theodore ‘Bo’ Dollis now has clear, exclusive and unambiguous right to identify musicians as the Wild Magnolias,” Keaton concludes. “He’s the only one who can do that. If anyone else does it then they’ve got a lawsuit coming.”

  • Glad to hear this. Have been missing the great sound of the Wild Magnolias, with Big Chiefs Monk and Bo.