'Tis a dark day for Black Sabbath.
Frontman Ozzy Osbourne has filed a federal trademark-infringement suit against fellow founding member Tony Iommi, accusing the guitarist of illegally laying sole claim to the band's name.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, states that it was Osbourne's "signature vocals" that accounted for the group's "extraordinary success"—and that Black Sabbath's popularity took a dive when the bat-biting Prince of Darkness left the band from 1980 to 1986.
"It is with great regret that I had to resort to legal action against my long term partner, Tony Iommi, but after three years of trying to resolve this issue amicably, I feel I have no other recourse," began Osbourne's lengthy statement explaining his decision.
"Throughout the last 12 years, it was my management representatives who oversaw the marketing and quality control of the 'Black Sabbath' brand through Ozzfest, touring, merchandising and album reissues," he continued.
"The name 'Black Sabbath' now has a worldwide prestige and merchandising value that it would not have had by continuing on the road it was on prior to the 1997 reunion tour. Tony, I am so sorry it's had to get to this point by me having to take this action against you. I don't have the right to speak for [bandmates Geezer Butler and Bill Ward], but I feel that morally and ethically the trademark should be owned by the four of us equally.
"I hope that by me taking this first step that it will ultimately end up that way. We've all worked too hard and long in our careers to allow you to sell merchandise that features all our faces, old Black Sabbath album covers and band logos, and then you tell us that you own the copyright. We're all in our 60's now. The Black Sabbath legacy should live on long after we have all gone. Please do the right thing."
Osbourne is requesting a 50 percent stake in the trademark profits and a cut of the proceeds from when Iommi toured as Black Sabbath without him in the 1990s.