Black Sabbath Guitarist Sues Live Nation Over Gear


December 17, 2008

Tony Iommi, lead guitarist of the rock band Black Sabbath, is suing Live Nation Inc. for trademark infringement, alleging a subsidiary of the music promoter has illegally sold merchandise using images of the band.

The guitarist alleged that Signatures Network Inc., purchased by Live Nation in 2007, has continued to sell merchandise with images of Iommi and Black Sabbath’s trademarked symbol after the expiration of a licensing agreement, according to a complaint filed today in a U.S. District Court in New York.

Iommi co-founded Black Sabbath in 1968 along with vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward. The left-handed guitarist behind songs such as “Iron Man” and “Paranoid” has retained control of the band’s trademarks as the other original members left, according to the complaint.

Live Nation, the largest U.S. concert promoter, purchased Signatures for $79 million in 2007 and tapped its chief executive officer, Dell Furano, to take over its merchandise division.

The purchase gave Live Nation control of the rights to license and market merchandise for artists such as The Beatles, U2, Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand. The company, based in Beverly Hills, California, also competes with Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. for concert ticket sales.

Live Nation rose 15 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $3.80 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The shares have lost 74 percent this year.

Iommi, 60, has registered the Black Sabbath trademark in the U.K, U.S. and European Union. The band’s contract with Signatures expired in 2006, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that Signatures continued to sell the band’s merchandise after Iommi sent a letter in April telling the company to stop. The gear included about 100 items of clothing, jewelry, posters and fashion accessories.

Iommi is seeking damages of at least three times Signatures’ profits from the merchandise, as well as a halt to the product sales.

Live Nation doesn’t comment about ongoing litigation, said spokeswoman Liz Morentin.

The case is Anthony Iommi v. Signatures Network Inc., No. 1:08-cv-10904, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Courtesy of