British lead vocalist Ozzy Osbourne and guitarist Tony Iommi of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath recently reached an agreement over a trademark ownership dispute that can trace its roots to back to 1980, however the most recent contentions arose in 2008. The dispute between Ozzy and Iommi was over ownership of the BLACK SABBATH trademark. The two former bandmates began working towards an agreement back in May after they attended the funeral of their mutual friend, vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Since then, they reached an agreement and very recently they jointly issued this press release;
"Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi of the legendary heavy metal band have amicably resolved their problems over the ownership of the legendary band's name and court proceedings in New York have been discontinued. Both parties are glad to put this behind them and to cooperate together for the future and would like it to be known that the issue was never personal, it was always business."
Contention over ownership rights to the trademark was instigated back in December 2008 when Iommi filed a trademark-infringement lawsuit against Signature Network over the latter’s sale of unlicensed ‘Black Sabbath’ Merchandise. The suit caught the attention of Osbourne because in his complaint Iommi referenced a document dated June 30, 1980 which stated that Osbourne and his company, Monowise, Ltd;
“Assigned and transferred any and all rights of any kind or nature that they have or have had in the name 'BLACK SABBATH' …. Osbourne further agree[d] that they he will not hereafter, directly or indirectly, use, permit, or authorize the use of the name ‘BLACK SABBATH’ or any part of it or any similar name in connection with any activities in and throughout the entertainment industry”
In response to this assignment, Osbourne’s attorney sent a letter dated January 29, 2009 saying that “Ozzy and his wife, Sharon Osbourne, had been in charge of controlling the nature and quality of the services rendered under the mark since 1997.”
After learning of Iommi’s trademark-infringement suit against Signature Network and the complaint’s reference to the June 30, 1980 assignment of rights document; Osbourne filed a lawsuit against Iommi in May 2009. His suit claimed that Iommi illegally assumed sole ownership of the mark in a trademark name registration filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Osbourne asked for a 50% interest in the trademark, for a portion of Iommi’s profits from use of the trademark, and also for cancellation of the federally registered trademark on the basis that Iommi, when he filed the application in March 1999, made a knowingly false statement to the USPTO when he declared that no other person had any right to use the mark in commerce.
Osbourne’s complaint alleged that Osbourne's "signature lead vocals" are largely responsible for the band's "extraordinary success," noting that its popularity plummeted during his absence from 1980 through 1996.
In the early stages of the suit, Iommi’s counsel argued that Osbourne signed away all his rights to the mark after he quit the band in 1979.
In response, Osbourne's lawyer called that agreement a "red herring" that was "repudiated" when the singer rejoined in 1997 and took over "quality control" of the band's merchandise, tours and recordings.
That case was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York and can be found here;
Case No. 09-cv-04947 (S.D.N.Y. Filed May 26, 2009).
Is there a reunion with original lineup in the mix?
After The Pulse of Radio asked Ozzy if there was once again a chance for the original lineup to get together again, he replied;
"Well, I never say never…. I mean, I've got a few ideas, but we'll see what happens, you know. We did try and do another album, but we've all changed so much and it's — if you don't do an album that blows the doors off the last one that we did together, then it's gonna be looked upon as a joke, you know."
For more information on the Ozzy / Iommi trademark dispute take a look these articles;