Business

Journey Band Members Agree to Settle $10 Million Lawsuit and Go 'Separate Ways'

Journey
Andy Kropa/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Members of Journey, Steve Smith, from left, Ross Valory, Aynsley Dunbar, Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain at the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on April 7, 2017 in New York.

Journey principal members Neal Schon and Jon Cain agreed to settle their $10 million trademark infringement lawsuit accusing the band’s former drummer Steven Smith and former bassist Ross Valory of engaging in an “attempted corporate coup d’état” to improperly use the Journey name.

“The members of the band Journey who were parties to a recent lawsuit (Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Steve Smith and Ross Valory) are pleased to announce that they have resolved their differences and reached an amicable settlement agreement,” read a statement released by Journey's management company Q Prime. (Cain is being represented by Fox Rothschild.) “Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain acknowledge the valuable contributions that both Ross Valory and Steve Smith have made to the music and the legacy of Journey. Ross Valory and Steve Smith wish their former bandmates well and much success in the future. Journey looks forward to continuing to tour and make new music for their dedicated fans around the world.”

Schon and Cain sued their former bandmates on March 3, 2020 in California Superior Court, maintaining that they owned the sole rights to use the band’s name, according to the lawsuit filed by the Miller Barondess law firm. They claimed that they secured the exclusive irrevocable license to use the Journey name since a trademark license agreement in 1985 through Nightmare Productions, Inc., one of the band’s corporate entities. Per the agreement, the license would continue “until the date upon which none of Stephen Perry, Neal Joseph Schon, or Jonathan Cain is actively engaged in a professional music career utilizing the name “‘JOURNEY,'” according to the complaint.

When Perry left the band in 1997, he entered into an agreement giving Schon and Cain the sole, exclusive, irrevocable right to control the Journey Mark, including the Journey name, according to the lawsuit.

The dispute started on February 13, 2020, when Smith and Valory reportedly held shareholder and Board of Directors meetings of Nightmare Productions and voted to oust Cain and Schon from their board positions and take control of the board, according to the complaint.

Despite this board vote, Schon and Cain maintained that they held the exclusive license to use the Journey name and that Smith and Valory had no right to perform as Journey. At the time of the filing of the lawsuit, the attorney representing Schon and Cain said the dispute severely impacted relationships between the artists.

“With their actions, Smith and Valory have destroyed the chemistry, cohesion and rapport necessary for the band to play together,” read a press statement from the Miller Barondess law firm, which initially represented Schon and Cain. “Journey can only tour successfully and succeed creatively if it is united and the band members trust one another. The actions taken by Smith and Valory shattered that trust.”

Correction April 7: An earlier version of this story said that former Journey lead singer Steve Perry was a party to this lawsuit. Perry was not involved with this litigation nor was he represented by the Miller Barondess law firm. Perry is represented by Manatt Phelps & Phillips.