Nearly a year after Ultra Records founder Patrick Moxeysold his 50% share of the lauded dance imprint to Sony Music, the executive is being sued by the major label over his continued use of the “Ultra” trademark.
When Moxey sold his remaining stake in Ultra Records this past January, it marked a turning point in dance music history — giving Sony full control of the label it had previously held a 50% stake in. While Moxey parted ways with the imprint he founded in 1995, he held on to his other company, Ultra International Music Publishing, LLC. But in a complaint filed last month in New York, Sony Music argues he has no legal rights to use the “Ultra” name following the sale.
“Notwithstanding that Moxey received a substantial payment as part of the buyout, after which he ceased to have any involvement in the business of Ultra Records, he has sought to perpetuate the falsehood that he remains involved with Ultra Records by wrongfully continuing to use Ultra Records’ ULTRA trademark as part of his music publishing business,” reads the complaint, which was filed Nov. 11.
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The complaint continues that under the terms of a 2012 agreement that marked Sony’s acquisition of 50% of Ultra Records, “Ultra International Music Publishing and its affiliates were only permitted to use the word ‘Ultra; under license from Ultra Records. That license was terminated by Ultra Records following the buyout, effective March 29, 2022.”
The complaint goes on to state that Ultra Publishing’s continued use of the name is in violation of the Ultra Records trademark, noting that “No written license agreement was ever executed between Ultra Records and Ultra International Music Publishing concerning the latter’s use of the ULTRA trademark.”
In a statement provided to Billboard, Sony Music states that “Patrick Moxey sold Ultra Records and the Ultra brand to Sony Music Entertainment in exchange for a substantial buyout payment, and now is perpetuating the falsehood that he remains affiliated with his former company by continuing to use the Ultra name in connection with the publishing operations he controls. These actions knowingly misrepresent his involvement with Ultra and are in clear violation of the trademark rights SME acquired in a mutually agreed upon transaction.”
While a representative for Moxey did not immediately return a request for comment, in a statement given to Music Business Worldwide, he claimed that Sony has “done nothing but bully me from the day I sold them my record company. Ultra International Music Publishing has been an independent standalone business for over 20 years, which publishes songs co-written with Drake, Post Malone, Ed Sheeran, 21 Savage, Rihanna, Future, Kygo and many more.
“The vast majority of our songs are not on Ultra Records or Sony [Music],” Moxey continued. “I have made it abundantly clear on numerous occasions in media interviews that Ultra International Music Publishing is completely separate from Ultra Records, and always has been. I have every right to use the name ‘Ultra’ in connection with Ultra International Music Publishing, and won’t be intimidated by a massive global corporation.”
After leaving Ultra Records, Moxey announced a new dance label venture, Helix Records, which has since released music from Snakehips, Willy William and Two Friends. The imprint is a division of Moxey’s longstanding hip-hop label, Payday Records. Both labels are distributed by Warner Recorded Music’s indie services arm ADA Worldwide.
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