Prince Estate Beats Purple Rain Patent Case Against Bang Energy Drink


On August 23, a tribunal at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sided with the Prince Estate by formally rejecting a company that tried to trademark “Purple Rain,” reports Billboard. The company, Bang Energy, hoped to apply the phrase to their energy drinks, dietary supplements, and sports beverages. When announcing their ruling, the judges stated that phrase “uniquely and unmistakably” belongs to the late musician. 

“Consumers encountering applicant’s mark, when used in connection with applicant’s goods, will presume a connection between ‘Purple Rain’ and Prince,” said one judge during the ruling. As evidence, the ruling cited a survey that asked participants what “comes to mind” when they saw the phrase “Purple Rain.” Roughly 63% responded with “Prince,” his album of the same name, the titular song from it, or his 1984 musical.

A Bang Energy subsidiary applied to register “Purple Rain” as a trademark back in 2020. Upon learning of the final verdict last week, Bang Energy CEO Jack Owoc told Billboard he was “a big fan” of the late artist, saying, “We greatly respect Prince and his estate and will not ‘rain’ on their parade. Maybe we can negotiate a deal in the future that is mutually beneficial to both parties.”

“‘Purple rain’ is not a word in the English language,” attorneys for the Prince Estate wrote when filing their case to oppose the trademark. “Prince chose the phrase and made it famous through a Grammy-winning album, a major motion picture, a song performed around the world, and the iconic image of the late artist in the costume, movie and tour. For the great majority of consumers, the only significance the term ‘Purple Rain’ has is to identify Prince and the image he made famous.”

Earlier this month, a Minnesota judge signed off on a deal that finalizing how the late Prince’s estate and assets would be distributed. The musician famously died without leaving a will, leaving all of his belongings—including the rights to his music—to be split between his heirs, their advisors, and the management company Primary Wave.

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