Rudolph Isley is suing his brother Ronald Isley over the trademark for The Isley Brothers.
Videos by American Songwriter
Rudolph is claiming that his brother Ronald registered the trademark for The Isley Brothers in 2022 as a sole individual. The trademark was previously split between them both and now excludes Rudolph from being an “equal member.”
The suit seeks to correct that The Isley Brothers is jointly owned by each brother and that they are “sole and equal members,” according to a report with equal assets to the brand. Rudolph said that he is “unaware of the degree to which Ronald exploited the Mark [trademark], the licenses and/or other transactions that Ronald entered into,” and is also asking that Ronald pay his 50 percent of the proceeds collected for the trademark of The Isley Brothers.
On November 2, 2021, Ronald applied to register The Isley Brothers’ trademark as the sole individual with the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office (USTPO) for “visual recordings and audiovisual recordings featuring music and animation.”
The USTPO approved Ronald’s registration for sole ownership of the Isley Brothers brand on August 16, 2022.
Rudolph and Ronald Isley co-founded The Isley Brothers with their brother, O’Kelly Isley in 1954. Following O’Kelly’s death in 1986, Rudolph and Ronald each retained a 50 percent share of ownership in the group, along with The Isley Brothers trademark.
By the late 1980s, Rudolph left the group to deal with health issues, while mourning the loss of his brother. In the lawsuit, Rudolph said that he “remained active in promoting and managing the group’s properties,” including a publishing deal in 2018 and the use of their 1959 song “Shout” in a 2023 Super Bowl commercial, but is unclear how the trademark has been used since he was dropped.
“Upon information and belief, [Ronald Isley] has within the past year offered goods and services in commerce to the public under the [trademark] within this judicial district and in other locations,” reads the court filing, “without the authorization or approval of [Rudolph Isley], and has failed to account to or make payment to [Rudolph Isley] in connection with such exploitation of the [trademark].”
“This is an unfortunate family matter that will get resolved in litigation,” said Ronald Isley in a statement.
The Isley Brothers currently consist of Ronald and Ernie Isley, who recently revisited their 1975 hit “Make Me Say It Again Girl, Pts. 1 & 2” with Beyoncé in 2022.
That year, The Isley Brothers were also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images