Ozzy Osbourne Wins First Round in Legal Battle Over Sabbath Name
Ozzy Osbourne is one step closer to being a 50 percent owner in the Black Sabbath name, according to reports that a Manhattan federal judge has ruled Osbourne's lawsuit against former Black Sabbath bandmate Tony Iommi can proceed.
Osbourne claims that Iommi illegally trademarked the Black Sabbath name, making him the sole owner of the name for use on merchandise and licensing. Osbourne sued for a piece of Iommi's profits from use of the name and wants half ownership of the name.
Iommi's attorney, Andrew DeVore, argued in court that Osbourne had signed away all of his rights to the Black Sabbath name when he quit the band back in 1979. However, Osbourne's lawyer, Howard Shire, countered, calling that agreement a "red herring" that was "repudiated" when the singer rejoined Sabbath in 1997 and took over "quality control" of the band's merchandise, tours (including Ozzfest headlining runs) and recordings.
Before making his ruling, though, Judge John Koeltl urged both sides to consider resuming mediation, with hopes that an out-of-court settlement can be reached before the case heads to trial.
Osbourne filed his suit in May of 2009. In a statement, he expressed regret for taking such legal actions against his longtime musical partner, "but after three years of trying to resolve this issue amicably, I feel I have no other recourse."
Osbourne contends the Sabbath name lost its bankability during the mid 1990's, "after constant and numerous changes in band members," and that the Sabbath brand "was literally in the toilet and Tony Iommi (touring under the name Black Sabbath) was reduced to performing in clubs. Since 1997, when Geezer [Butler], Bill [Ward] 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' ... [and] I feel that morally and ethically the trademark should be owned by the four of us equally."