A Tribute to Prince: a fierce defender of his IP rights

The most beautiful girl in the world”, “Purple rain”, “Kiss”, “Cream” is what comes to my mind when I think of Prince. But this great musician offered more to the world than just music and passion for women. One contribution in the IP arena is that of setting the boundaries of copyright.[1] His assertiveness and willingness to do “what it takes” helped him win his legal battles and grab back his rights from Warners Bros.[2] A savvy businessman, he licensed his music in platforms (e.g. Tidal) that allowed him to reap immediate returns from his music.[3] He is also known for his copyrighted “Love Symbol”.[4] 



Prince died on 21 April 2016,[5] but we will continue to read his name in IP files. A few days before his death, on 18 April 2016, the trademark “Prince” was approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).[6] If the trademark is not opposed, it will cover clothing for entertainment services.

Prince’s strong personality & image certainly played a role in winning his copyright and trademark battles. Would other less known artists have been successful in advancing their personality rights? This is a topic which we aim to discuss soon.


[1] http://ipkitten.blogspot.it/2015/09/letter-from-amerikat-remember-fair-use.html

[2] http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/princes-legal-legacy-contract-fights-886521;http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2016/04/21/the-prince-of-copyright-enforcement/;http://tedium.co/2016/04/21/prince-troubled-relationship-with-copyright/

[3] http://thehustle.co/listen-prince-music-online

[4] See the US Coyright Catalog:

a)http://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi v1=18&ti=1,18&Search_Arg=love%20symbol&Search_Code=TALL&CNT=25&PID=CLs5IO-zxHH35dPu_h-msTMNCXa2&SEQ=20160423170102&SID=1



For the legal controversy, see D. Friedmann (eds), Trademarks & Social Media. Towards Algorithmic  Justice, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 2015,  page 88, note 118, https://books.google.it/books?id=uLCCCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA88&lpg=PA88&dq=prince+symbol+trademark&source=bl&ots=NWs9AKXfZW&sig=_XFmapDogvAxJ0wBUjRYRI4MzRA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjVxurFy6XMAhXEDxoKHexfBVYQ6AEIbDAR#v=onepage&q=prince&f=false

[6] http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/22/entertainment/prince-death-main/

[7] http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=86433244&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch


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