Isley Brothers Brand Name Case Proceeds to Court

  • Save

Isley Brothers case

  • Save

Photo Credit: John Mathew Smith / CC by 2.0

The Isley Brothers’ legal dispute over the rights to the band name is headed to court per a judge’s ruling last week.

The legal dispute between Ronald and Rudolph Isley over the rights to the Isley Brothers’ band name is going to court, according to a judge ruling handed down on Wednesday, August 23. Judge Thomas M. Durkin refused to dismiss Rudolph Isley’s lawsuit against his brother Ronald.

Rudolph alleges in the lawsuit that his brother is trying to improperly register an individual trademark on the name “The Isley Brothers,” which Rudolph attests they own equally.

Ronald was initially sued by his brother Rudolph earlier this year, seeking a full accounting and payment from Ronald equivalent to 50% of the proceeds made from the Isley Brothers’ name.

In November 2021, Ronald submitted an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to gain exclusive rights to “The Isley Brothers” trademark. The office officially registered the trademark in August 2022, leading to Ronald filing a motion to dismiss the case in response to his brother’s lawsuit.

Judge Thomas M. Durkin said that the defense on the part of Ronald’s legal team asserted that any partnership dissolved in 1986 when Ronald and Rudolph’s brother and bandmate O’Kelly Isley Jr. died. Further, the judge ruled that the case did not warrant dismissal, citing the unique circumstances of the trademark dispute regarding band names and multiple preceding cases. Should the two sides fail to settle, the case will head to discovery, followed by a jury trial.

“Rudolph Isley is encouraged by the court’s decision denying his brother’s motion to dismiss his complaint,” said Brian D. Caplan, an attorney for Rudolph Isley, in a statement to Pitchfork. “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.”