TikTok’s favorite energy drink wanted a “Purple Rain” brand. Prince’s Estate says absolutely not – Rolling Stone
Looks like Bang Energy Drink’s “Purple Rain” flavor just isn’t in the cards. A panel of judges from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled in favor of Prince’s estate last week, blocking Bang’s 2020 bid to trademark the phrase for a line of energy drinks and supplements food.
The energy drink company, best known for its constant collaborations on TikTok and its cameos with influencers, street investigators and stunt YouTube channels, sponsored the famous hype house before the group’s Netflix show and subsequent implosion of popularity. At the height of its popularity, Bang Energy made a name for itself as the drink of internet stars. On TikTok, the #BangEnergy hashtag has over 18 billion views and the company’s page has 1.5 million followers. TikTok users could often be seen ranking their Bang collections, with the ultimate goal of collecting all the flavors.
According to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s August 23 decision, Bang’s trademark was denied because “Purple Rain” is still widely associated with Prince and the late artist’s song, even without the use of his name or image. Had the brand been licensed, judges said the prevalence of celebrity endorsements and licensing deals, combined with Prince’s fame, would have implicated a false connection between his estate and the energy drink.
“We find on this record that Purple Rain uniquely and unequivocally points to Prince,” the decision read.
In their argument, Prince’s estate noted that “Purple Rain” is not a commonly used or defined phrase in the English dictionary and would only result in estate and trademark damages if used by Bang. The estate, consisting of a $156million deal between Prince’s heirs and a talent management company, was only recently settled after a long legal battle and notoriously guarded with the musical icon’s image deceased.
“Prince’s music, art and brands hold a special place in our society and culture,” said attorney L. Londell McMillan, who is representing part of the estate. Billboard. “Purple Rain is a world famous brand and Prince brand. Please respect these unique strengths or suffer at your own risk.
The judges specifically cited a double-blind survey provided by the estate which found in a test of 1,200 people, more than 66.3% of respondents said they associated the phrase “Purple Rain” with Prince, or to one of his songs, films or albums.
Bang Energy argued that Prince’s Estate might have gotten a different answer had they asked survey participants about ‘Purple Rain”s links to energy drinks, but that wasn’t enough to convince the panel – which came out strongly in favor of Prince’s Estate.
In a statement to Billboard, Bang Energy CEO Jack Owoc deferred to the court’s decision, saying “we greatly respect Prince and his estate and it won’t rain on their parade,” he said. “Maybe we can negotiate a deal in the future that is mutually beneficial for both parties.”