Musical brand

Prince Estate Shuts Down ‘Purple Rain’ Energy Drink Brand – Billboard

If you saw “Purple Rain” energy drinks on a store shelf, would you think that Prince sell them? In a decision in favor of the deceased artist’s estate, the Federal Trademark Office indicates that you probably would.

A US Patent and Trademark Office tribunal ruled last week that the company behind Bang Energy drinks cannot register ‘Purple Rain’ as a trademark, siding with the arguments of Prince’s heirs that which the term “uniquely and unequivocally” refers to the legendary rocker.

The ruling cited a survey that asked participants “what, if anything, comes to mind” when they saw the term “Purple Rain.” In response, a whopping 63% responded with “Prince” or one of his works, such as his 1984 rock musical film or the hit album and song of the same name.

“Consumers encountering Plaintiff’s mark, when used in connection with Plaintiff’s goods, will assume a connection between ‘Purple Rain’ and Prince,” a judge wrote in the Aug. 23 ruling.

Following the decision, the CEO of Bang Energy jack owoc Told Billboard Wednesday that he was “a huge fan” of the iconic entertainer and would go no further in the argument: “We have great respect for Prince and his estate and will not ‘rain’ on their parade. Maybe that we can negotiate a deal in the future that will be mutually beneficial to both parties.”

The decision came just weeks after a judge signed an agreement to end a six-year legal battle over Prince’s $156million estate. This final deal saw his many assets, including his various brands, split between several living heirs, advisers and Primary Wave, which owns about half of the estate.

Londell McMillanwho leads a group of these heirs, said Billboard on Wednesday, he welcomed the decision to “unequivocally” reject the application: “Prince’s music, art and brands hold a special place in our society and culture. Purple Rain is a world famous brand and Prince brand. Please respect these unique strengths or suffer at your own risk.

Court cases like the one involving the “Purple Rain” trademark, filed in a federal court called the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, are a common tactic for any major brand, aimed at fending off rival names that are too similar. Apple files dozens of such cases every year, as do many other big companies. Musicians are no different: Jimmy Buffett’s company recently filed a lawsuit against a cannabis-themed product line called “Marijuanaville,” and Rihanna’s brand Fenty filed two new cases last year. The Eagles also once brought such claims against an actual “Hotel California”.

Last year, Prince’s heirs filed a similar lawsuit against an Ohio winery that wanted to register “Purple Rain” as a brand of wine. Since then, winemakers have argued that consumers would never associate Prince with alcohol because the rocker has notoriously abstained from alcohol. This case is still awaiting a decision.

In the ongoing litigation, a subsidiary of Bang Energy applied in 2020 to register “Purple Rain” as a trademark for a wide range of dietary supplements, as well as energy and sports drinks. Prince’s heirs quickly filed their case opposing the claim, arguing that consumers would be tricked into thinking the late singer was involved in the products.

“’Purple rain’ is not a word in English. Prince picked up the phrase and made it famous through a Grammy-winning album, a great movie, a song performed around the world and the late artist’s iconic image in costume, film and the tour,” estate attorneys wrote. “For the vast majority of consumers, the only meaning of the term ‘Purple Rain’ is to identify Prince and the image he made famous.”

Bang argued consumers wouldn’t think of Prince when they see the name on drinks and supplements, but in last week’s ruling, the Trademark Council said the public assumes endorsement of a fame even when a product has “no relation to the reason for fame. celebrity.”

“It is common for performers and owners of well-known brands to expand their product lines, to incorporate a diverse set of products to capitalize on the fame of their names and brands,” the board wrote.

The trademark dispute isn’t the only legal issue related to Bang Energy’s music. The Florida company is also currently embroiled in litigation with Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group over allegations that the company used copyrighted music in hundreds of unlicensed social media videos.

Read the full “Purple Rain” trademark decision here: