A New York judge has sent a strong message, ordering entertainer Prince to pay $3.95 million for failing to honor a licensing agreement that he signed in 2006. That agreement contained provisions for the pop star to promote an eponymous fragrance through media and in-store appearances, distributing samples at concerts, and then receiving 50 percent of any profits made from the product. But two years later, Revelation, the fragrance company that entered the deal, sued Prince, asserting breach and seeking damages.
The fragrance was inspired by Prince’s 3121 album, and the licensing agreement was signed by both Prince and Universal Music Publishing Group. Although he and Universal’s lawyers argued the terms of the agreement did not require direct promotion by Prince, the judge ruled that the singer had made post-signing statements that sent “mixed messages” about his involvement with the product. These mixed messages came after signing the agreement, including empty promises made worse when minimum sales requirements were not met.
Though the judgement may seem large, it was shy of what it could have been, given that the judge did not find any malicious intent on behalf of Prince and did not award punitive damages.