Ronald and Rudolph Isley’s legal dispute over the rights to the Isley Brothers band name is headed to court, Billboard reports and Pitchfork can confirm. In a ruling handed down on Wednesday (August 23), Judge Thomas M. Durkin refused to dismiss Rudolph’s lawsuit against Ronald. In the lawsuit, Rudolph accuses his brother of improperly trying to register an individual trademark on the name “The Isley Brothers,” which Rudolph claims they should own in equal measure.
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. 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. In response to his brother’s lawsuit, Ronald filed a motion to dismiss the case.
In documents reviewed by Pitchfork, Durkin asserted that the defense put forth by Ronald’s legal team—that any partnership dissolved in 1986 when Ronald and Rudolph’s brother and bandmate O’Kelly Isley Jr. died—did not warrant dismissal, citing the “unique circumstances” of trademark disputes over band names and multiple preceding cases. If no settlement is reached, the case will head to the discovery stage, which would then be followed by a jury trial.
“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.”