This morning news broke that Ozzy Osbourne is suing his former Black Sabbath bandmate Tony Iommi to reclaim a stake in the “Black Sabbath” trademark. Now the Blizzard of Ozz himself has issued a statement saying that after years of trying to “resolve the issue amicably,” the lawsuit was regretfully Ozzy’s last course of action.
In the statement, Osbourne credits himself and his former band member Geezer Butler and Bill Ward for helping to resuscitate the Black Sabbath name after Iommi spent the early 1990s playing to small clubs as Black Sabbath with a revolving door of musicians. “The brand of ‘Black Sabbath’ was literally in the toilet,” Ozzy says, adding that since he, Ward and Butler all helped restore the band’s brand, they should all equally share the name.
The lawsuit comes just months after Iommi sued Live Nation for selling “Black Sabbath” branded merchandise even their contract with the guitarist had reportedly expired in 2006, which allowed Iommi to retake the trademark. According to Ozzy, it was his management team which handled the “marketing and quality control” as well as the merchandising of the Black Sabbath brand since 1997, so Iommi taking action against Live Nation and the deal Ozzy’s team worked out may have caused Osbourne to take legal action against Iommi. “The Black Sabbath legacy should live on long after we have all gone. Please do the right thing,” Ozzy says to close his statement. Read Ozzy’s entire statement to Iommi below.
“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.”