Miller Barondess Prevails – Mötley Crüe’s ‘Drum Ring’ Isn’t Stolen Trade Secret
January 3, 2014 by Eriq Gardner
Mötley Crüe and drummer Tommy Lee have prevailed in a strange lawsuit that proposed that a drum stunt used on the band’s 2011 tour was taken from an onstage “rollercoaster” proposal 20 years earlier.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit was Howard Scott King, who claimed that he had come up with an idea for a “Tommy Lee Loop Coaster.” As the complaint described the apparatus: “Lee would play his drums on a platform on wheels which would follow the track until Lee was in an upside down position playing the drums and he would continue playing the drums as the platform followed the track in a complete loop.”
King further alleged that in 1991, he worked with an engineering company and agents for the band. He said he delivered a proposal but heard no response. He sued after watching a “drum ring” on the 2011 tour.
Last month, L.A. Superior Court Judge Lisa Cole dismissed the lawsuit.
She ruled that King’s idea was not a trade secret “as he failed [to] take reasonable steps to maintain confidentiality, including handing the idea over to Lee, the proposed purchaser, without securing an NDA or any promise not to use the idea without compensation.”
The judge also determined that the drum ring was “independently developed” and that King didn’t in fact submit the proposal to Mötley Crüe, represented by attorneys at Miller Barondess.
The decision echoes the famous legal principle that a man who blurts out his idea without having first made his bargain has no one but himself to blame.