Kyle and Zac Brown in happier times - photo via Country Chart Talk
My philosophy is you aren't truly famous until you've been sued at least once or twice by disgruntled people.
Zac Brown and basically all his business entities and partners have had a lawsuit filed against them in Georgia by a man named Kyle Landas for copyright and trademark infringement.
On top of the infringement, which is the main part of the lawsuit, Landas, a former employee of Zac, claims that Zac's company provided unsafe work conditions, Zac's business manager was an asshole, and Zac liked to yell a lot (to paraphrase, of course).
The copyright/trademark infringement part of the lawsuit is in regards to a design that Landas, a designer who specializes in fine art memorialized in hand tooled or painted leather and whose art has been shown at the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Hank Williams Museum, created back in 2008 that he submitted to FarmAid for consideration of having the design used on custom leather guitar straps.
Landas called this design Unity Tree.
According to the lawsuit, in 2010, "Landas embossed Unity Tree onto a custom leather guitar strap, and on June 17, 2010, presented it to Brown backstage at a Zac Brown Band concert in Burlington, Iowa."
Zac Brown was so impressed that he invited Landas to come and work for him at a leather studio in Georgia that he had recently purchased and re-named “Southern Hide.” A month later Landas was shown the planned layout for the Zac Brown Band's upcoming album You Get What You Give which featured Landas' Unity Tree design, something he says he never gave them permission to use.
According to the lawsuit, things seemed to go downhill from that point. In the lawsuit, it says that Landas complained several times about the working conditions and the fact that the Zac Brown Band was using his Unity Tree design without his permission and wouldn't compensate him despite agreeing to do such at some point.
The lawsuit also alleges that one of Zac's company managers "belittled Landas and on more than one occasion told him to 'stop being a pussy'.”
Sounds like a pleasant situation all around. Landas also accuses Zac himself of becoming enraged and screaming at him several times during his employment.
Landas was let go from Zac's company in August of 2012.
According to the documents, Landas is seeking $150,000 as well as attorney's fees, although I'm not quite sure if this is the full amount he's seeking.
So far there's been no statement from Zac or any of his various companies listed in the lawsuit.
You can read the court documents that are attached below.
You can also read an interview from 2010 that Kyle did with Country Chart Talk here.