Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Black Sabbath in trade mark dispute


Metal favourites Black Sabbath are involved in an internal trade mark dispute.

Lead singer Ozzy Osbourne (famous for among other things biting the head off a bat whilst on stage) is reportedly suing the band's guitarist Tony Iommi over the rights to the bands name. Iommi registered 'Black Sabbath' as a trade mark in the US in 2000 and claims that when Osbourne left the band in the 1980's he relinquished any rights he had in the band's name.

According to a statement issued by Osbourne, he asked Iommi to "do the right thing".

"Tony, I am so sorry it's had to get to this point by me having to take this action against you,".

"We've all worked too hard and long in our careers to allow you to sell merchandise that features all our faces, old Black Sabbath album covers and band logos, and then you tell us that you own the copyright."

Osbourne reportedly want's the original band members to share Black Sabbath's name equally: "I hope that by me taking this first step that it will ultimately end up that way." however at present it seems he is seeking 50% ownership.

Interestingly enough this dispute bears remarkable similarities to the case of Peter Byford v (1) Graham Oliver (2) Steven Dawson (2003) which related to the metal band Saxon. In this case the line-up of the band had been constantly changing and on leaving the band in 1985 and 1995 respectively Oliver and Dawson registered the name as a trade mark. It was held that the band was a partnership at will and as such all rights in the name of the band were owned by the members jointly, where a member left the band and was replaced then the name and goodwill belonged to the successive partnerships.

If the claim was brought in the UK then applying the Saxon case (presuming there is no band agreement) it would seem likely that the trade mark will be deemed to belong to the current band line up, which incidentally is back to the original 1968 line-up.



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