Less than two weeks after 1990s reggae-punk trio Sublime made their big-stage return at Cypress Hill's Smokeout Festival, a Los Angeles judge issued a preliminary injunction barring the band from performing under the Sublime banner.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Judge Howard Matz issued the injunction on Tuesday following the recent filing of a trademark lawsuit brought by the estate of the band's late singer and creative figurehead, Bradley Nowell, who died of a drug overdose in 1996. After playing for years under the name Long Beach Dub All-Stars, bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh recently revived the band name with new singer Rome Ramirez, making their major debut at the Cypress Hill event on October 24.
Days before that performance by the shambling band best known for such still-popular, mellow hits as "Saw Red," "Santeria" and "What I Got," Nowell's estate and merchandising company filed a trademark infringement suit on October 21 in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking to halt any performances under the name Sublime.
"Prior to his untimely passing, both Bud and Eric acknowledged that Brad Nowell was the sole owner of the name Sublime," the Nowell family wrote on the band's official 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."
When the suit was filed, Gaugh and Wilson responded, "On behalf of the band Sublime, founding members Bud Gaugh and Eric Wilson are thrilled by the opportunity to reconnect with their fans around the world. While we all mourn the passing of our brother and bandmate Bradley Nowell some 13 years ago, Sublime still has a strong message of hope and love to share — a message that is especially important in these difficult times. Brad's heirs apparently do not share this vision and do not want the band Sublime to continue and tried — unsuccessfully — to file a temporary restraining order to prevent the band from carrying on. Despite those objections, we are pleased that the United States District Court has allowed us to perform as Sublime for all of our fans."
The Hollywood Reporter added that Matz issued the injunction because he believed the estate was likely to win its copyright claim. "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," Nowell's family said in response to the action. "We believe this will help protect and preserve Brad's musical legacy."
The judge asked attorneys for Nowell's estate to draw up an injunction for him to sign that bars the former bandmembers from using the Sublime name in connection with any live performances or recordings, on clothes, posters, books or other merchandise and in any Internet domain name that uses the word "Sublime" or anything similar.
Gaugh and Wilson issued a statement in response, saying, "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."