Jonathan Steinsapir was quoted in a recent Los Angeles Times article on singer Morris Day’s frustration with Prince’s estate after the estate blocked him from using the band name “Morris Day and the Time” due to a 1982 contract with Prince’s company PRN Music.
According to the article, Day submitted a trademark claim on use of “Morris Day and the Time” in 2021, and shortly thereafter, Prince’s estate notified him that he had no right to use or register “The Time” in any form. The article details the 1982 contract in question as well as Day’s previous involvement as lead singer of “The Time.” Day is claiming that he should be able to incorporate “The Time” into his band name because Prince “had no problem” with him using it before his passing in 2016.
Jonathan compares this situation to a similar incident in which the Motown label claimed ownership of the trademark for “the Jackson 5.” After emphasizing that he has not seen the contracts firsthand, Jonathan speculates that Day could potentially argue that Prince abandoned his contractual right by previously allowing Day to perform as “Morris Day and the Time.”
“If Prince was writing him a letter every year or every five years saying, ‘I know you’re doing this and you have my permission—but just remember all the trademark rights are still mine,’ then that would mean Prince was making sure that this was being done with his consent.”
The full article can be found here.