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Trademark Infringement suit against Led Zeppelin proceeds

It’s been a long time since Led Zeppelin rock and rolled, but the band is headed to court over the opening section of one of their most famous songs.

As we have discussed before in this blog (most recently on Feb. 4; you can read that post here), the estate of the lead guitarist of 1960s rock band Spirit has sued the surviving members of Led Zeppelin, which broke up in 1980, for Copyright Infringement. The trustee of the estate claims that guitarist Jimmy Page lifted the opening acoustic guitar part from “Stairway to Heaven” from a Spirit song called “Taurus.”

Spirit went on tour with Led Zeppelin in the late 1960s, after it had released the album containing “Taurus.” In 1971, Led Zeppelin released Led Zeppelin IV, which contained “Stairway.” By 2008, the song had earned at least $562 million in royalties and record sales.

In an update, the estate has won a victory in court. According to TIME, a judge has ruled that the two musical passages are similar enough that the Copyright Infringement suit can proceed to trial. This does not mean that the plaintiff has won the case, but it means that Page and the other surviving members of Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones, may have to defend themselves in court.

For their part, the defendants argue that the chord progression from “Taurus” was too commonplace for it to be protected by the estate’s Copyright.

Copyright Infringement cases can put your business’ future at stake. That is why you need to make sure you have the right Intellectual Property attorney working for you.

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