A legal representative of Prince‘s heirs warned companies to respect the late artist’s rights or “suffer at your peril.”
Entertainment lawyer L. Londell McMillan spoke out after beverage company Bang Energy failed in an attempt to trademark a range of products called “Purple Rain”. A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled last week that the mark was indelibly associated with Prince, agreeing with McMillan’s position that the phrase was “uniquely and unmistakably” associated with his legacy among the general population.
“‘Purple rain’ is not a word in the English language,” Prince’s estate filing said.
“Prince chose the phrase and made it famous through a Grammy-winning album, a major motion picture, a song performed around the world, and the iconic image of the late artist in costume, film and tour. For the vast majority of consumers, the only meaning that the term ‘Purple Rain’ has, to identify Prince and the image he made famous.”
In its decision, the board wrote: “It is common for artists and owners of well-known brands to expand their product lines to incorporate a diverse set of goods in order to capitalize on the reputation of their names and brands.” As a result, consumers were likely to make a connection even if a product “had no relation to the cause of the celebrity’s fame.”
This was told by Bang Energy CEO Jack Owoc Billboard he was a “huge fan” of Prince, adding: “We have the utmost respect for Prince and his estate and will not ‘rain’ on their parade. Perhaps we can negotiate a deal in the future that is mutually beneficial to both parties.” ” “Prince’s music, art and trademarks hold a special place in our society and culture,” McMillan said. “Purple Rain is a Prince brand and a brand known worldwide. Please respect these unique assets or trust at your peril.”
A lawsuit concerning a Purple Rain wine range is not yet completed. Its makers argued that consumers would not connect with Prince because he did not drink alcohol.
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