Beach Boys litigation resumes as Love takes on Wilson

December 2005


Beach Boy Mike Love has filed a law suit against cousin and former Beach Boy Brian Wilson over the latter’s release of the concept album Smile which Wilson released in 2004 and a free CD giveway. The suit alleges the misappropriation of Love’s songs, likeness and the Beach Boys trademark. Smile was first recorded in 1967 but was disowned by Love and the album was, in effect, a Wilson solo project. However album was never completed and Wilson suffered a breakdown and withdrew from public life. Wilson was the Beach Boys main songwriter and although most tracks on Smile are written by Wilson and lyricist Van Dyke Parks, Love co-wrote the classic ‘Good Vibrations’ and maintains a share of the copyright in this. The trade mark issue relates to the band’s name: The remaining band members continued to perform after Wilson’s departure although both Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson have now died (in 1983 and 1998 respectively). Love has continued to perform as the Beach Boys and has a licence to do so granted by Brother Records Inc which owns the Beach Boys Trademark. Brother itself is equally owned by four original members, Brian Wilson, Alan Jardine, Mike Love and the Estate of Carl Wilson. Alan Jardine tours as the Endless Summer Band after being prevented by court order from using the name ‘the Beach Boys’. The actual Smile album was released as ‘Brian Wilson presents Smile’ and whilst this might not infringe the Beach Boys’ trade mark, the new litigation seeks damages from a free give away by UK newspaper the Mail on Sunday where 2.6 million copies of a promotional ‘Free Beach Boys classic CD performed by Brian Wilson’ were given away. The Mail on Sunday’s promotional text described the 10 track CD as ‘ a free ten-track CD, Good Vibrations, featuring the Beach Boys’ most-loved songs performed by Brian Wilson. With tracks such as California Girls, Good Vibrations and Wouldn’t It Be Nice reworked by Wilson, the CD makes for superb listening. The songs are all classic pop numbers and we are giving you a fantastic chance to enjoy hot versions by the creative genius behind the band’s original line-up’. Love seeks damages for loss of sales of legitimate Beach Boys product amongst other remedies.

The Guardian 5 th November 2005 .

For more information on the Beach Boys see

and for details of earlier litigation see and

Brothers Records, Inc. v. Jardine (2003) U.S. App. LEXIS 1335 (9th Cir. January 28, 2003)

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