Ozzy suing Tony for 50% of Sabbath share
Lawyers representing Ozzy Osbourne have filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office against the heavy metal icon’s Black Sabbath bandmate, Tony Iommi, claiming the man responsible for some of the genre’s most memorable riffs illegally assumed sole ownership of the Black Sabbath name.
According to the New York Post, Osbourne’s suit seeks a 50 percent stake in the “Black Sabbath” trademark. Furthermore, the filing claims Osbourne is entitled to a portion of the profits Iommi has generated through use of the band name, and suggests it was Osbourne’s “signature lead vocals” that helped propel the band’s “extraordinary success.” The suit also points out that Sabbath’s popularity took a nosedive during Ozzy’s absence during 1980 and 1996, when former Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio took over behind the mike stand.
The suit follows one filed by Iommi in December 2008 against Live Nation. In that filing, Iommi claims the concert giant sold merchandise bearing the band’s logo, despite the 2006 expiration of a merchandising deal, reportedly worth nearly $80 million. Soon after that agreement concluded, Iommi reclaimed the band’s trademark.
Iommi’s suit argues Live Nation continued to sell more than 100 items of merchandise featuring the band’s likeness, name and logo, despite the receipt of cease-and-desist orders from the guitarist’s camp. Iommi’s suit seeks damages in the amount of three times the profits from the merchandise sales, plus a halt to the Black Sabbath product sales.
In a recent interview with Decibel magazine, both Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler said that working with Dio was actually much easier than working with Ozzy. “Ronnie’s a songwriter in his own right — he’s got tons of ideas,” Butler said. “Whereas Ozzy … in the old days, he’d come up with a vocal line and I’d write the lyrics. Ronnie is 100 percent involved in both the musical side and the vocal side, and he writes his own lyrics as well.”
Regardless of how big an Ozzy fan I am, I'd say that 50% is pushing it. I could see 25% but c'mon Ozz! You've got your own solo music to deal with rather than worrying about what half of your old band is doing. :(
UPDATE FROM OZZY'S MYSPACE:
Below is my official press statement on the official Black Sabbath trademark lawsuit. I am very saddened that I’ve had to take legal action against Tony. This is something that I’ve tried to avoid for years. I am not Geezer or Bill’s voice. However, till the day I die I will not change my mind on this issue. The Black Sabbath trademark should be equally owned by Geezer, Bill, Tony and I as the true Black Sabbath lineup is Tony, Geezer, Bill and I. We’ve all been mates since school. I’ve always said there is an invisible thread that holds us together. Tony, lets get this ridiculous issue sorted and move on with our lives. You’re 61, I’m 60. I hope that we’ve got a good 20 years left in us. But if not, God Forbid something happens to you. What’s going to happen to the Black Sabbath trademark? Who’s going to oversee it? Don’t you think after we’re long gone the rights should stay in your family, my family, Bill’s family and Geezer’s family?
Statement from OZZY OSBOURNE:
“It is with great regret that I had to resort to legal action against my long term partner, Tony Iommi, but after three years of trying to resolve this issue amicably, I feel I have no other recourse. As of the mid-1990’s, after constant and numerous changes in band members, the brand of "Black Sabbath" was literally in the toilet and Tony Iommi (touring under the name Black Sabbath) was reduced to performing in clubs. Since 1997 when Geezer, Bill and myself rejoined the band, Black Sabbath has returned to its former glory as we headlined sold-out arenas and amphitheatres playing to upwards of 50,000 people at each show around the world. We worked collectively to restore credibility and bring dignity back to the name “Black Sabbath” which lead to the band being inducted into the UK and US Rock & Roll Hall of Fames in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Throughout the last 12 years, it was my management representatives who oversaw the marketing and quality control of the “Black Sabbath” brand through OZZFEST, touring, merchandising and album reissues. The name "Black Sabbath" now has a worldwide prestige and merchandising value that it would not have had by continuing on the road it was on prior to the 1997 reunion tour. Tony, I am so sorry it’s had to get to this point by me having to take this action against you. I don’t have the right to speak for Geezer and Bill, but I feel that morally and ethically the trademark should be owned by the four of us equally. I hope that by me taking this first step that it will ultimately end up that way. 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. We’re all in our 60’s now. The Black Sabbath legacy should live on long after we have all gone. Please do the right thing.”