A company, The House of Bryant, owns numerous trademarks and copyrights to the song. Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, the children of Rocky Top songwriters have filed a law suit to stop the name change. The complaint claims the name change would injure the reputation, good will and business value of House of Bryant’s Rocky Top trademarks. This may well turn into an interesting case. Trademarks are restricted to the industries specified in the mark registration. While the publishers may have trademark registrations in music and related business, they may not have protection under the use of the name of a town. The town, for example, could probably legally name a street "Rocky Top Drive" without any issue.
This one gets sticky because the town wants to profit from the name and image created in the song. While not copying the song or any of its lyrics, the House of Bryant issued a press release which states the city's name change would be 'an attempt to unfairly exploit the fame and goodwill of House of Bryant's intellectual property."
The song has been made famous in bluegrass and country music circles with The Osborne Brothers almost creating their identity by it. It had become so popular in bluegrass that fans were actually starting to request that it not be performed as they were getting tired of its constant playing. It wasn't that they didn't like the song but, for a while, it was getting too much play!
The song has been recorded over 100 times. It's popularity would be a boon to the little town which hopes to cash in on the novelty of the name.
Rocky top, you'll always be Home sweet home to me. Good ole rocky top, Rocky top tennessee, rocky top tennessee.