Lawyers representing Ozzy Osbourne have filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office against the heavy metal icon’s Black Sabbath bandmate, Tony Iommi, claiming the man responsible for some of the genre’s most memorable riffs illegally assumed sole ownership of the Black Sabbath name. (Update: read Ozzy’s full statement on the suit here.)
According to the New York Post, Osbourne’s suit seeks a 50 percent stake in the “Black Sabbath” trademark. Furthermore, the filing claims Osbourne is entitled to a portion of the profits Iommi has generated through use of the band name, and suggests it was Osbourne’s “signature lead vocals” that helped propel the band’s “extraordinary success.” The suit also points out that Sabbath’s popularity took a nosedive during Ozzy’s absence during 1980 and 1996, when former Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio took over behind the mike stand.
The suit follows one filed by Iommi in December 2008 against Live Nation. In that filing, Iommi claims the concert giant sold merchandise bearing the band’s logo, despite the 2006 expiration of a merchandising deal, reportedly worth nearly $80 million. Soon after that agreement concluded, Iommi reclaimed the band’s trademark.
Iommi’s suit argues Live Nation continued to sell more than 100 items of merchandise featuring the band’s likeness, name and logo, despite the receipt of cease-and-desist orders from the guitarist’s camp. Iommi’s suit seeks damages in the amount of three times the profits from the merchandise sales, plus a halt to the Black Sabbath product sales.
In a recent interview with Decibel magazine, both Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler said that working with Dio was actually much easier than working with Ozzy. “Ronnie’s a songwriter in his own right — he’s got tons of ideas,” Butler said. “Whereas Ozzy … in the old days, he’d come up with a vocal line and I’d write the lyrics. Ronnie is 100 percent involved in both the musical side and the vocal side, and he writes his own lyrics as well.”