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Daryl Hall and John Oates’ Dispute is a Business Lesson for All of Us


We often don’t think of famous musical duos as legal partnerships, but that’s exactly what they often are. Famous musical bands and duos are multimillion dollar business entities; from royalties to intellectual property to revenue from sales, they aren’t much different than your business. And also like so many businesses, when there is a lot of money at stake, things between partners can get contentious, and end up in court.

Who Owns and Can Sell the LLC?

Such is the case with 80s icons Daryl Hall and John Oats. The duo, under the name Hall and Oates, are responsible for some of the most iconic and well known songs of the 70s and 80s. As early as last year they performed together, but a recent lawsuit has revealed that behind the scenes, legally, things are hardly friendly between the two.

Some time ago, the two decided to put the many assets that are a result of their music and fame, into an LLC. The LLC became the legal owner of things like the music, the duos’ likenesses, royalties, merchandising, and other assets related to their music.

According to Hall, there was an agreement that neither could sell their part of the LLC to anybody.

This is common in partnerships, and LLCs. The owners, partners or members, only want to work with the other partners or members. They don’t want someone selling their share, and thus, the LLC or the partnership then has to work with a stranger, or at least, someone they don’t want to work with.

In most cases, the partnership agreement, or the LLC operating agreement, will have a buyout provision, saying that should a partner lose, or want to give up his or her interest in the partnership or LLC, that the remaining partners or members, can buy out the interest, thus avoiding having to work with outsiders.

Oates Tries to Sell?

Hall, in his lawsuit, alleges that Oates has sold or is about to sell his (Oates’) interest in the LLC, and that violates their agreement. Hall has already obtained a restraining order, preventing the sale of Oates’ interest, until the issue can be determined by a court.

Dispute Over Performance

The duo have actually been in court before, about who has the legal right to perform the duo’s songs.

Details of the partnership agreement between the two are unknown, but as a general rule, so long as a venue has a license to have a song performed, one artist cannot prevent another from performing his or her music.

That general rule can be overridden by an agreement between artists, but nobody knows if one exists that would prevent Hall or Oats individually from performing the groups’ music.

But performance of the duo’s music is one thing. There also may be a dispute over whether one or the other, individually, can identify themselves as “Hall and Oates” and whether they can use that valuable piece of intellectual property individually.

Don’t make common business mistakes. Call our Fort Lauderdale business lawyers at Sweeney Law P.A. at 954-440-3993 today.




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