Prince‘s estate has responded after the singer Morris Day claimed that he has been prohibited from using the band name The Time by the estate.
Day, who regularly collaborated with Prince and still fronts The Time, issued a statement yesterday (March 3) which accused the late musician’s estate of blocking him from using the name Morris Day & the Time “in any capacity”.
“I’ve given 40 years of my life building up a name and legacy that Prince and I came up with,” Day wrote in a statement on Instagram. “A name that while he was alive, he had no problem with me using. I literally put my blood, sweat and tears into bringing value to that name. In fact, he booked me on several tours, and many jam-packed nights at Paisley Park, under the name Morris Day & The Time. Not once ever saying to me that I couldn’t use that name configuration.
“However, now that Prince is no longer with us, suddenly, the people who control his multi-million dollar estate want to rewrite history by taking my name away from me, thus impacting how I feed my family.
“So, as of now, per the Prince Estate, [I] can no longer use Morris Day & The Time in any capacity.”
Prince’s estate subsequently issued a denial, saying that it was “surprised and disappointed” in Day’s “not entirely accurate” account.
“Given Prince’s longstanding history with Morris Day and what the Estate thought were amicable discussions, The Prince Estate was surprised and disappointed to see his recent post,” their statement reads (via Pitchfork). “The Estate is open to working proactively with Morris to resolve this matter. However, the information that he shared is not entirely accurate.”
Day’s team have since shared with Billboard a letter he reportedly received in December from lawyers representing Prince’s estate, which took issue with Day’s attempt to trademark ‘Morris Day and The Time’ and cited an 1982 agreement in which Day allegedly agreed that Prince’s company would own the rights to the band’s name.
“Accordingly, Mr. Day has no right to use or register ‘The Time’ in any form,” the estate’s attorneys added in the December letter. “That includes use and registration of the trademark ‘Morris Day and the Time.’”
Billboard reports that Prince’s estate then threatened legal action to block the trademarking attempt, but said it would “prefer to discuss this matter with [Day] and resolve it through an agreement”.
In a further statement issued yesterday, Day’s attorney Richard B. Jefferson said that the Prince estate’s legal arguments about the rights to the band 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 long-standing consent,” Jefferson told Billboard.
Back in January, Prince’s estate was reportedly valued at $156.4million (£114.3m) – well exceeding the original $82.3million (£61m) estimate given by its administrator, Comerica Bank & Trust.