The Isley Brothers are embroiled in a prolonged legal dispute as members clash over the rightful ownership of the band’s trademarked name.
According to Billboard, U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin refused to dismiss the lawsuit initiated by Rudolph Isley.
The suit alleges that Ronald Isley wrongfully tried to obtain a federal trademark registration for “The Isley Brothers,” a name Rudolph insists should be co-owned.
Ronald’s legal team contended that Rudolph forfeited any rights to the name when he left the band.
However, Judge Durkin recognized the distinct nature of band name conflicts and allowed the case to advance.
Unless the Isley Brothers reach a mutual agreement, both parties must gather evidence to bolster their respective cases, leading to a potential jury trial.
The Isley Brothers’ Case Is Not Unique
Trademark disagreements over band names are common and often involve current and former members disputing the entitlement to a renowned name.
The core question remains: Who embodies the band?
Historically, bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Journey, and the Beach Boys have faced similar legal battles.
In the Isleys’ situation, Rudolph asserts that since sibling O’Kelly Isley passed away in 1986, he and Ronald have equally shared the band’s intellectual property rights.
Ronald, however, argues that the “Isley Brothers” trademarks belong to those actively using the name.
Ronald further pointed out that Rudolph last performed with the band in 1986.
Rudolph’s lawsuit seeks a judicial declaration that the two equally share the trademark rights.
He also wants transparency from Ronald regarding the trademark’s exploitation and any associated earnings.
According to Judge Durkin’s recent ruling, Rudolph will retain rights to the name if his claims are substantiated.
The judge highlighted that Rudolph’s role transitioned from performer to managerial, implying continued ownership rights.
Judge Durkin also referenced past verdicts concerning individual band members’ rights to group trademarks.
Rudolph claims his involvement with the Isley Brothers remained active even after he ceased performing.
He cites his instrumental role in finalizing a significant publishing deal in 2018.
He also cited his negotiating the use of the band’s legendary track “Shout” for a Super Bowl commercial.