Grammy-winning musician Sam Moore, one of the original “Soul Men,” recently lost his high-profile trademark battle at the appellate level against The Weinstein Co. LLC and MGM Studios Inc., ringing in another big Hollywood win.
Moore was half of the successful soul duo, Sam & Dave, known for hits such as Soul Man and Hold On, I’m Comin. He sued the defendants over the 2008 film, Soul Men and its soundtrack. Among his many claims, Moore asserted that the movie, starring Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac, was an appropriation of his life story for defendants’ monetary gain. He also said the film’s soundtrack violated his interest in the song, Soul Man, and his common law trademarks in the phrases “Soul Man” and “Soul Men” – to name a few.
Last year, a federal judge in Tennesse dismissed the suit and Moore appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which recently affirmed the lower court ruling and dismissed all of Moore’s claims.
In rejecting Moore’s claim the movie was an appropriation of his life, the appellate court noted that even if he could prove this, the First Amendment nevertheless protected the movie because it “without a doubt…added significant expressive elements to any purported use of Moore’s identity.”
The court also dismissed his claim that the use of the phrase “Soul Men” was a misappropriation of his publicity rights. The court said no reasonable juror would consider that phrase as a statement regarding Sam & Dave and that it was irrelevant that the soundtrack producers marketed this product to soul music fans.
In case you’ve been off on another planet and somehow may be unfamilar with Moore as “The Legendary Soul Man:”