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Trademark Battle Continues: Isley Brothers’ Legal Dispute Inches Toward Court Resolution


The iconic Isley Brothers may soon find themselves in a courtroom battle over trademark rights, as a lower court judge denied Ronald Isley’s motion for dismissal of his brother Rudolph Isley’s lawsuit. The dispute revolves around the rights to the “Isley Brothers” name, with Rudolph claiming equal ownership rights and alleging that Ronald attempted to trademark the name exclusively. The judge’s decision, revealed through court documents obtained by Pitchfork, signifies a pivotal moment in the legal wrangling between the two siblings.

According to reports, Rudolph Isley initially filed a lawsuit earlier this year, seeking both an accounting and a payment from Ronald for 50% of the proceeds generated by the “Isley Brothers” name. The dispute stems from a trademark application submitted by Ronald in November 2021 to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, ultimately resulting in the trademark’s registration in August 2022.

The complexity of the case lies in the history of the Isley Brothers’ name. Following the passing of O’Kelly Isley Jr. in 1986, the band’s original founder and eldest brother, the rights to the name became contested territory between Ronald and Rudolph Isley. The dissolution of partnerships between the brothers after O’Kelly’s death added to the ambiguity over the rightful owner of the name.

The lower court’s desire for an amicable resolution is evident, as it encourages the Isley Brothers to explore mediation or other forms of settlement. Failure to reach a settlement would trigger the discovery phase of the trial, eventually leading to a full jury trial.

Rudolph Isley’s attorney, Brian D. Caplan, expressed his client’s optimism about Judge Durkin’s refusal to dismiss the case. Caplan noted, “Mr. Isley looks forward to obtaining a declaration confirming his 50% ownership interest in the band name ‘The Isley Brothers,’ with respect to the band that he formed with his two brothers, Ronald and O’Kelly, in 1954.”

Despite the legal turmoil within the Isley Brothers’ ranks, their influence remains intact, particularly in the eyes of contemporary Hip Hop artists. Notably, Drake shared his admiration for Ronald Isley in a heartfelt Instagram post in May 2021. The rapper, expressing his awe at dining with the legendary musician, hailed Isley’s role in shaping his musical style and taste, emphasizing the enduring impact of the Isley Brothers’ legacy.

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Written by
Derek Chan – Editor


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