Lawyers for the Prince estate sent a letter warning his longtime collaborator Morris Day that he could not use the name of his band The Time ‘in any form’, according to documents obtained by Billboard – sparking a heated response on Thursday (March 3) in which Day accused the estate of trying to “rewrite history”.
Day, the lead singer of Prince-affiliated funk band The Time, claimed in a social media post Thursday that Prince’s estate told him he could no longer use the name “Morris Day and The Time.” . He said he had “spent 40 years of my life” building the name and that Prince had “no problem” with him using it.
“Now that Prince is no longer with us, all of a sudden the people who control his multi-million dollar estate want to rewrite history by taking my name away from me, which is impacting how I feed my family. “, Day continued. “So from now on, according to the Prince Estate, I can no longer use Morris Day & The Time in any capacity.”
In response to the post, the Prince Estate responded with a statement that read “Given Prince’s long history with Morris Day and what the Estate believed to be amicable discussions, the Prince Estate was surprised and disappointed to see his recent message. The Estate is willing to work proactively with Morris to resolve this issue. However, the information he shared is not entirely accurate.
Later on Thursday, Day’s camp challenged the allegation that he lied and released the exact letter from the estate to Billboard.
In a Dec. 13 letter from attorneys at Fredrikson & Byron, the estate disputed that Day had attempted to obtain federal trademark registration for “Morris Day and The Time.” As justification for its claims, the estate cited a 1982 agreement in which Day allegedly agreed that Prince’s company would own the rights to the band’s name.
“As a result, Mr. Day has no right to use or record ‘The Time’ in any form,” estate attorneys wrote in the December letter. “This includes use and registration of the ‘Morris Day and the Time’ mark.”
The estate threatened to take legal action to the Federal Trademark Office to block the registration, but said it “would prefer to discuss this matter with you and resolve it with an agreement”. The letter stated that under such an agreement, Day would allow his name to return from the estate.
In a statement late Thursday, Day’s attorney, Richard B. Jefferson, argued that the estate’s legal arguments regarding rights to the band’s name were “not accurate.”
“The written agreement between the parties gives our client the exclusive right to continue as Morris Day and the Time and is consistent with Prince’s longstanding consent,” Jefferson said. Billboard.
Prince died of a fentanyl overdose in April 2016 at the age of 57. Although legendary for his strict control over his intellectual property rights, the iconic artist died without a will – triggering a complex process called probate in which the courts decide how to disperse a deceased. person’s estate.
After six years, these messy procedures are almost over. But they haven’t officially been completed yet, which means the estate is still under the control of Comerica, a bank that was appointed estate trustee during the probate process. This means that it is Comerica and his advisors who are in conflict with Day, not Prince’s true heirs.
When the court process finally concludes later this year, control of the estate will pass to two sets of legal heirs. On one side is Primary Wave, a well-funded music industry group that has bought a 50% stake in Prince’s estate. On the other side is a group of Prince’s siblings and their advisors, who make up the other half of the estate.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Primary Wave pointed Billboard to Comerica, saying the music company “currently has no say in the affairs of the estate as long as it remains in probate. “. A lawyer for the other heirs declined to comment on the dispute.