On Earth as it is in court: Only and Danzig in happier(?) times.
The brand new Misfits legal horror business: founding singer Glenn Danzig has filed suit against bassist Jerry Only for breach of contract, claiming Only violated a 1994 legal agreement by trademarking various band logos and images in his own name in the year 2000. Danzig is seeking $75,000, but is also asking the court to figure out how much Caiafa might owe him as a result of lost or blocked licensing deals.
This action comes just five years after ex-Misfits Bobby Steele and Arthur Googy sued Only over the exact same thing. That case fell apart after key evidence on the plaintiffs’ side went missing (according to Steele, his ex-wife purposely destroyed said evidence during their very acrimonious breakup).
Both suits cite the same facts: during the second half of 2000, Jerry Only filed applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark various Misfits logos—including the Famous Monsters version of the Misfits logo and a version of the Crimson Ghost mascot (referred to in the legal papers as the “Fiend Skull”)—in his offstage name of Gerald Caiafa and did so without notifying other band members. The applications were all approved by 2003; Only then began licensing these logos to retailers. This violated a 1994/5 contract in which splintered Misfits factions agreed to share ownership of the band’s name as well as pre-existing trademarks, logos, and artwork. The Misfits were also bound not to use “names, likenesses and visual representations” of each other without written consent.
That contract, of course, was one of the end results of Only suing Danzig in 1992 over various copyrights and unpaid royalties. Another result: Danzig, who broke up the band in 1983, allowing Only the performance rights to the Misfits. Only has had some version of the band going ever since; in this new lawsuit, Danzig calls Jerry’s Misfits an “imitation,” asserting the “vast majority of…Misfits fans associate the [trademarks in question]” with his original stint, wherein Danzig was known as the band’s “creative heart.” The singer also suggests Only’s “primary qualification” for replacing original bassist Diane DiPiazza in February of 1977 is that “he had recently received a bass guitar for Christmas.”
Danzig apparently became aware of Only’s trademark moves around 2005; that’s when the singer first began filing cancellation/opposition proceedings with the U.S. PTO. Danzig last filed an opposition in 2008. Meanwhile, Only hasn’t let up in his quest to put the Misfits logos on every available surface. This would be fine and dandy, allegedly, if he had cleared it all with Danzig, and if he hadn’t bullied stores into not working with Danzig. To wit:
Caiafa has prevented and continues to prevent other retailers, including Hot Topic, which is the largest retailer of the Misfits products, from entering into licenses with Danzig and/or his designee to merchandise products…by falsely instructing the merchandisers that he is the exclusive owner of the marks, and that, if they enter into a license agreement with Danzig to exploit the marks, they must pay Caiafa a license fee and/or a significant monetary penalty…Caiafa’s misrepresentations have proximately caused injury to Danzig by causing merchandisers not to do business with him, and have deceived consumers as to the source of merchandise bearing the marks…Had Caiafa not interfered with Danzig’s ability to exploit the marks, Danzig or his designee would have entered into lucrative agreements to license the marks…”
Danzig (or rather, his lawyer) goes on to call Only’s behavior “despicable” and notes that he’s been “subjected to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of his rights.”
The most recent action in this case is the April 29 waiver of service of summons from Jerry Only’s attorney, which just means Danzig’s lawyer doesn’t have to send someone to New Jersey or Chicago or where ever Only lives now to serve the guy with papers.
Interesting bit with the “Fiend Skull.” Perhaps Danzig fears the wrath of Paramount Pictures, who currently own the original Crimson Ghost film serial from which the Misfits appropriated that logo. Someone at Paramount knows what they’re sitting on there: when I inquired about using a still from The Crimson Ghost in my book they asked for what amounts to half a year’s rent.
More on this story as it develops…or, maybe in this case, decomposes. Below: the first page of DANZIG v. CAIAFA, all of which I have read. Yes, there is reference to Kryst the Conqueror.