The Isley Brothers may now have to take their trademark case to court after a lower court judge refused to dismiss Ronald Isley’s motion for dismissal of the suit.
In court documents obtained by Pitchfork, it was revealed that Judge Thomas M. Durkin made his ruling against Ronald Isley on Wednesday (August 23). Ronald’s brother, Rudolph, is currently suing him because, he claims, Ronald tried to register the trademark to the “Isley Brothers” name, and Rudolph feels that the two should share the rights to the name equally
“Rudolph Isley first sued Ronald Isley earlier this year, seeking a full accounting and a payment from Ronald equaling 50 percent of the proceeds made from the Isley Brothers name,” reported the outlet. “In November 2021, Ronald submitted an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office seeking exclusive rights to “The Isley Brothers” trademark. The USPTO officially registered the trademark in August 2022.”
Ronald’s claim, meanwhile, stems from the fact that the rights to the Isley Brothers name went up for grabs the day O’Kelly Isley Jr. — the original founder of the band, and oldest brother to Rudolph and Ronald — died in 1986. The partnerships that existed between the brothers subsequently dissolved after that, which meant that the name could belong to either brother.
However, it is the hope of the lower court that the Isley Brothers can resolve their dispute via mediation or another form of a settlement. If not, however, the discovery phase of the trial will be launched, which then will lead to a jury trial.
For his part, Rudolph Isley is encouraged by Judge Durkin’s refusal to dismiss the case.
“Rudolph Isley is encouraged by the court’s decision denying his brother’s motion to dismiss his complaint,” Brian D. Caplan, an attorney for Rudolph Isley, wrote to Pitchfork in a statement. “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 Isley Brothers’ beef with one another, the group is still wholly respected by today’s Hip Hop stars, as Drake proved when he revealed he was over the moon after having dinner with Ronald Isley.
Drizzy took to his Instagram Stories back in May 2021 to share a photo of himself with the legendary Ronald Isley of The Isley Brothers. He followed up the post by recognizing Billboard’s award and crediting Isley as somebody who shaped his formula and musical taste.
“Today was one of those days it doesn’t feel real,” he wrote. “Waking up to artist of the decade then having dinner with my idol @ronaldisley and listening to the stories behind every song that shaped my love for emotional music and created my formula for a lot of my writing… high on life right now my g’z.”