“Purple Rain” is one of those phrases that can only be associated with Prince and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office agrees. A forum of justice ruled on Aug. 23 that Bang Energy could not file trademark rights to “Purple Rain,” siding with the late rockstar’s estate that the term “uniquely and unmistakably” points to him.
“Consumers encountering applicant’s mark, when used in connection with applicant’s goods, will presume a connection between ‘Purple Rain’ and Prince,” one judge wrote on the decision. The ruling additionally cited a survey that asked participants what “comes to mind” when they saw the phrase “Purple Rain.” 63% responded with “Prince,” the 1984 musical film, the album of the same name, or its titular song.
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Bang Energy CEO Jack Owoc told Billboard on Wednesday (Aug. 31) that he was “a big fan” of Prince and opted not to proceed with the dispute. “We greatly respect Prince and his estate and will not ‘rain’ on their parade. Maybe we can negotiate a deal in the future that is mutually beneficial to both parties,” he stated.
Londell McMillan, Prince’s longtime lawyer and manager, added, “Prince’s music, art, and trademarks hold a special place in our society and culture. Purple Rain is a Prince mark and brand known worldwide. Please respect these unique assets or suffer at your own peril.”