What’s In A Name? Ozzy’s Black Sabbath Suit

Before Heaven And Hell hit the road in August for the band’s third summer tour, guitarist Tony Iommi will have a bit of paperwork to look through, courtesy of his old buddy and bandmate Ozzy Osbourne.

The Prince of Darkness recently filed a lawsuit against Iommi with the US Patent and Trademark Office, claiming that the guitarist illegally claimed ownership of the “Black Sabbath” band name, according to the New York Post.

To give you a quick refresher, Iommi and Osbourne, as well as bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward, formed Black Sabbath back in 1968. Osbourne was fired in 1979 and initially replaced by former Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio. In 1997 the guys put their differences aside and Osbourne once again teamed up with the original lineup. Iommi, Butler, Dio and drummer Vinny Appice – the early1980s Black Sabbath lineup –have been rocking out as Heaven and Hell since 2006.

In December Iommi filed a trademark infringement lawsuit of his own against Signatures Network, a merch subsidiary of Live Nation.

The guitarist claimed that Signatures sold merchandise with images of Iommi and Black Sabbath’s trademarked symbol after a licensing agreement between the company and the heavy metal band expired in 2006. The suit noted that merch, including about 100 items of clothing, jewelry, posters and fashion accessories, was sold even after Iommi sent the company a letter requesting that sales stop.

Osbourne’s lawsuit requests that Iommi hand over a 50 percent interest in the “Black Sabbath” trademark as well as a portion of the guitarist’s profits racked up from using the name.

The New York Post reported that the Godfather of Heavy Metal believes Iommi should pay up because his “signature lead vocals” are largely responsible for Black Sabbath’s “extraordinary success.”

Photo: AP Photo
Ozzy Osbourne performs for the royal family during the Party At The Palace event in London.

Osbourne made the following statement regarding the lawsuit:

“It is with great regret that I had to resort to legal action against my long term partner, Tony Iommi, but after three years of trying to resolve this issue amicably, I feel I have no other recourse. As of the mid-1990’s, after constant and numerous changes in band members, the brand of “Black Sabbath” was literally in the toilet and Tony Iommi (touring under the name Black Sabbath) was reduced to performing in clubs.

“Since 1997 when Geezer, Bill 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” which lead to the band being inducted into the UK and US Rock & Roll Hall of Fames in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

“Throughout the last 12 years, it was my management representatives who oversaw the marketing and quality control of the “Black Sabbath” brand through OZZFEST, touring, merchandising and album reissues. The name “Black Sabbath” now has a worldwide prestige and merchandising value that it would not have had by continuing on the road it was on prior to the 1997 reunion tour.

“Tony, I am so sorry it’s had to get to this point by me having to take this action against you. I don’t have the right to speak for Geezer and Bill, but I feel that morally and ethically the trademark should be owned by the four of us equally. I hope that by me taking this first step that it will ultimately end up that way. We’ve all worked too hard and long in our careers to allow you to sell merchandise that features all our faces, old Black Sabbath album covers and band logos, and then you tell us that you own the copyright. We’re all in our 60’s now. The Black Sabbath legacy should live on long after we have all gone. Please do the right thing.”

Read the New York Post article here.