Add your company website/link
to this blog page for only $40 Purchase now!Continue
FutureStarrThe Legal Beat: Journey Won't Stop Litigating - Plus YNW Melly Benny Blanc
Journey, the iconic 80s rock band, has been embroiled in a trademark feud that offers lessons for other companies. This story illustrates how big egos and lots of money can lead to messy disputes.
Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain are engaged in a bitter dispute over Cain's performance of "Don't Stop Believin'" at Mar-a-Lago, a private event hosted by former President Donald Trump. Cain co-wrote the song with Schon and singer Steve Perry; furthermore, she is married to televangelist Paula White who serves as spiritual adviser for Trump.
If you read one thing this week, make it Steve Knopper's lengthy Billboard story about the growing turmoil inside 80s rock band Journey. It details an internal dysfunction that spans divorce to lawsuits, defamation to intellectual property rights to assault - and much more in between.
As we've seen time and again, legal disputes can turn off fans of a band but they also serve as fuel that propels them towards success. Many rock acts have managed to thrive despite seemingly impossible odds due to emotional tension that ignites creativity.
Journey's 1981 hit single "Don't Stop Believin'" was downloaded millions of times. Attorneys argue that the band's trademark battle provides a lesson on the significance of clearly dividing intellectual property rights and creating companies with stable governance structures, according to attorneys.
Stan Polley, the band manager, initially arranged for all of their earnings - including touring, recording and songwriting performance royalties - to be kept in his holding company Badfinger Enterprises in order to avoid paying taxes on those earnings. This allowed the band to remain tax exempt throughout most of its career.
This was an especially costly mistake, as UK taxes are high and the band wasn't located in America. Additionally, they weren't receiving advance payments on their upcoming albums, leaving them with a financial deficit.
Eventually, the band's publishing deal with Allen Klein's company ABKCO was terminated due to not receiving royalties on their songs. Instead of continuing with Decca Records, which they had left in 1969, they chose to go independent and release their own material.
But as they fought back, Allen Klein established Nanker Phelge (a name which Brian Jones would make up) and kept their earnings in that company. He delayed payments on royalty fees and released compilations of their old songs as a means to avoid paying them outright.
The dispute with Klein continued for a decade and ultimately cost the band $3 million in unpaid royalty fees - equivalent to around $400,000 today, according to their accountant David Swerdlow.
Following an incredible tour, Ed Sheeran's latest album, Divide (pronounced "divide"), has become one of the highest-selling albums ever. Additionally, two songs from his latest studio album debuted in the top 10 on US Singles Chart simultaneously - setting a new record!
Sheeran has earned several accolades and awards for his work, such as the Brit Award for Best British Male Solo Artist and Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year. His third album, /, became the highest-selling album in 2017 - becoming both highest-selling in the UK and second worldwide.
The album produced four top-ten singles and sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, topping charts in many countries. Sheeran earned two Grammy Awards for his work on the record.
One year after releasing/, Sheeran began receiving lawsuits for copyright infringement from other artists and labels over its tracks. One such suit was filed by American XO songwriters Konstantine Lois and Shane Williams who claimed Blanco copied their musical riffs in "Eastside," featuring guest appearances by other musicians on board.
According to Billboard, attorneys for Lois and Williams filed a motion on Tuesday that voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit without reaching an agreement. They claimed they lacked both financial resources and insurance to continue fighting the case.
The lawsuit stemmed from allegations that the primary riff in "Eastside" and the guitar riff in "Loveless," a song they wrote for Pacific Coast Bloody Nose, were too similar to be copyright infringement. Both sides had been exchanging musicologists' reports as to whether these allegedly copyrighted materials actually infringed upon their respective intellectual property rights.
Recently, however, a California federal judge dismissed the musicologists' arguments. Sheeran and his collaborators can be held to no violations of copyright laws, according to Lois and Williams' ruling.
Pryor Cashman Partners Donald Zakarin, Ilene Farkas, Benjamin Akley and Counsel Andrew Goldsmith represented the musicians Benny Blanco, Halsey and Khalid as well as co-writers Sheeran and Nathan Perez in this case; however the defendants' attorney stated that plaintiffs had decided to withdraw since they were "certain to lose".