An ex-member of the classic rock band The Rascals cannot block his former bandmates from using the name for a reunion tour, a Manhattan federal judge has ruled.
Eddie Brigati accused two of his former bandmates of breaching contracts and infringing trademarks by using the “Rascals” name as part of a 2018 tour, but U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl dismissed those accusations in a ruling on Thursday.
The judge cited a number of different reasons for why Brigati’s claims were legally flawed, most notably that Brigati – who left the band way back in 1970 — had long ago legally “abandoned” his interest in the “Rascals” trademark through decades of disuse.
“Brigati has failed to show that he performed even one time under any version of The Rascals name between 1970 and 2012,” Judge Koeltl wrote in his ruling.
The Rascals, originally The Young Rascals, were a New Jersey rock act that released a trio of Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers in the late 1960s: “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin'” and “People Got to Be Free.” The band – Brigati, Felix Cavaliere, Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli – was fully broken up in 1972 but has toured occasionally and was later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
The current lawsuit was filed by Cavaliere and Cornish through their entity Beata Music LLC in 2018, seeking judicial approval to use “Rascals” in a reunion tour after Brigati declined to participate and objected to their use of the name. Brigati later filed counterclaims, accusing Cavaliere and Cornish of wrongdoing by using and seeking to register the trademark.
In dismissing those accusations Thursday, Judge Koeltl rejected the argument that Cavaliere and Cornish breached contracts by using the name, ruling that various agreements among the bandmembers either did not apply to the current situation or that Brigati had not been a party to them.
Judge Koeltl also rejected Brigati’s claim that Cavaliere and Cornish violated trademark law, saying there was no chance consumers would be confused when they read the carefully worded tour name: “Felix Cavaliere and Gene Cornish’s Rascals.” He also said Brigati simply waited far too long to file his case.
“Brigati offers no justification for his delay, and [Cavaliere and Cornish] would be prejudiced if Brigati were allowed to sit idly by for decades while others made productive use of the Rascals mark, only to assert trademark infringement claims when a lawsuit was filed against him,” the judge wrote.
An attorney for Brigati declined to comment Friday (Jan. 7). An attorney for Cavaliere and Cornish told Billboard he was “pleased with the court’s thorough analysis.”
“We initially brought the case for the purpose of determining what combination of members could use The Rascals name for a final tour, given some vague contract language. It was a limited case that resulted in far-reaching counterclaims,” said Eric Bjorgum, of the law firm Karish & Bjorgum PC. “Our claims are technically still pending, and we are considering our options. Overall, we are happy to have the counterclaims behind us and to have clarity on the contract issues that vexed the original members for some time.”