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Zappa siblings continue to spar over trademark claims

By | Published on Monday 9 October 2017

Dweezil Zappa

Ahmet Zappa has responded to renewed claims made by his brother Dweezil that the Zappa Family Trust is attempting to stop him from using his own name professionally.

As previously reported, Dweezil recently went public again about the Zappa family’s ongoing dispute following the announcement of plans for a hologram of Frank Zappa to tour next year.

He denounced the project, adding that he was not – despite suggestions in the press release – involved in it. He then discussed his ongoing legal issues with the Zappa Family Trust – operated by his siblings Ahmet and Diva Zappa – claiming that they are attempting to stop him from using the Zappa name professionally, despite it being his actual surname.

In a statement published last week, Ahmet Zappa writes: “Let me start by saying, I would rather be sitting face to face with Dweezil and figuring things out privately and respectfully – like I think families should do. Frank would have wanted that. That fact has never changed on my end. I have repeatedly said my door is open”.

Resolving things “privately and respectfully” doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? But that’s not happening anyway, as this remains a very public dispute.

Ahmet goes on to say that a number of the issues Dweezil has with the trust are out of his hands, because they are the result of rules laid down by Frank himself and their late mother Gail. He goes on to assert that the Trust has “no issue with Dweezil performing under his full name”.

“The ZFT has never had an issue with it”, he says. “The ZFT and its lawyers have repeated this to Dweezil and his different lawyers multiple times. For him to say that we have tried to stop him from using Dweezil Zappa is untrue and misleading. Additionally, Dweezil is representing that the ZFT owns rights in the Dweezil mark but this is absolutely false”.

Ahmet then calls out his brother’s PledgeMusic campaign, which he is running in order to raise money to fund his legal battle against the trust. “Our family business is about Frank Zappa”, he continues. “Beyond that, this gets into the minutiae of Frank’s trademarks since the 1970s”.

“For me on a personal level, I think it’s disgraceful that Dweezil, a guy who has received millions of dollars, would mislead and manipulate Zappa fans into thinking he cannot afford to handle his own, again in my opinion, completely absurd lawsuit against the ZFT – of which he is a beneficiary – collecting money from many people who may have far less than he does… to fight a battle that if he TRULY wanted to resolve, he could have tried communicating directly with his little brother”.

You can read the open letter in full here.

Dweezil¬†responded to Ahmet’s open letter¬†over the weekend, disputing his brother’s version of events and accusing him of a strategy of “deflection and deception” while “relying on people to ignore the facts”.

He adds that he’s not against speaking to his brother directly, but adds: “The question at hand is, what is the difference between the Ahmet that speaks to me on the phone and the Ahmet that speaks to his lawyers? There is a clear history of Ahmet saying one thing and doing the opposite. For a phone call to be of any value, there must be some legal closure as a result”.

“For clarification, I have not received any recent emails or calls from my brother”, he adds. “Ahmet, if you did send a recent email, which address was it sent to? Was it sent it to my email address, the one you recently blocked me from and illegally seized and archived all of the contents, claiming it was for the ‘protection’ of the ZFT? The role of the trustees of the ZFT (you) is to work within the best interests of the beneficiaries of the ZFT (me), so how does stealing all of my emails protect me, I wonder?”

He concludes: “I’m sure you’re aware that you could easily make things better right away by signing a trademark co-existence agreement. Why not show good faith in advance of a phone call?”

In short, no one’s making up any time soon. The dispute is set to go to trial next month.