Judge blocks Sublime bandmembers from using name

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Judge blocks Sublime bandmembers from using name

Tue Nov 03, 2009 @ 04:22PM PST

By Matthew Belloni

A Los Angeles judge has shut down an effort by former bandmembers of Sublime to perform under the name.

The preliminary injunction was issued today in a trademark lawsuit brought by the estate of the 90’s ska-punk band's lead singer Bradley Nowell. Nowell died of a drug overdose in 1996, but surviving band members Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh have continued to perform. For years they played as the Long Beach Dub Allstars but recently they revived the Sublime moniker when they recruited newcomer Rome Ramirez as lead vocalist.

That didn’t sit well with Nowell’s family. In advance of the band’s performance at the Cypress Hill Smokeout Festival, the Bradley Nowell estate and merchandising entity filed a trademark infringement suit on Oct. 21 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

"Prior to his untimely passing, both Bud and Eric acknowledged that Brad Nowell was the sole owner of the name Sublime,” the Nowell family posted on the band’s MySpace page. “It was Brad's expressed intention that no one use the name Sublime in any group that did not include him, and Brad even registered the trademark 'Sublime' under his own name."

Now Judge Howard Matz has agreed with the family, today issuing the injunction citing the estate's likelihood of prevailing on its trademark claim. Matz asked attorneys for the estate—Howard Weitzman, Jeremiah Reynolds and Randall Whattoff of Santa Monica’s Kinsella Weitzman firm—to draw up a written injunction for him to sign.

The injunction, when finalized, will likely block the band from:

  • Using the “Sublime” name and trademark (or anything similar) in connection with any live performances or “musical sound recordings;”
  • Using the “Sublime” name or trademark on any clothing, posters, books related to music, calendars, decals or stickers;
  • Using any Internet domain name containing the “Sublime” name or trademark, or any other confusingly similar domain name.


Nowell's family has issued a statement:  "We are gratified the Court ruled in our favor and found that Bud, Eric and Rome could not use the name Sublime without first obtaining permission from Brad's heirs.  We believe this will help protect and preserve Brad's musical legacy."

The band also issued a statement: "Our goal continues to be sharing the music and message of Sublime with all of our fans around the world.  We intend to take the court's advice and work on a business solution to this issue.  We hope the Estate follows suit so the music of Sublime can live on and be accessible to everyone."

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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