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Dweezil Zappa Offers Update on Trademark Battle Between Zappa Siblings

Fran Flynn, Getty Images
Fran Flynn, Getty Images

As the legal battle between Dweezil Zappa and his siblings continues making its way to court, he’s offered a lengthy update on his side of the story courtesy of a lengthy post at his official site.

As previously reported, Dweezil’s long-running Frank Zappa tribute show changed its name from Zappa Plays Zappa last year, with Dweezil accusing his brother Ahmet and sister Diva of using their status as trustees of their father’s estate — and a trademark agreement Dweezil has claimed his mother forced him to sign — to try and strong-arm exorbitant licensing fees out of him. That news triggered a public row between the Zappas, one whose final outcome seems likely to be determined by a judge.

Although Ahmet Zappa has insisted that his brother’s claims are unfounded, those claims were themselves quickly rebutted by Dweezil, who’s taken to touring under the banner 50 Years of Frank: Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the F@%k He Wants – The Cease and Desist Tour. Frank Zappa’s estate, meanwhile, is rumored to be contemplating a tour featuring some of his former sidemen performing behind a Zappa hologram.

That tour, as well as the ongoing disagreements between the Zappa heirs, is discussed in Dweezil’s wide-ranging post, which is titled “Trademark Battle Update” — and lives up to its name by taking thousands of words to delve into the particulars of the many issues currently dividing the family. While much of the information shared here won’t be new to fans, it does offer Dweezil’s most current thoughts on the situation, some coming specifically in response to Ahmet’s recent assertion that “Dweezil’s claims that the estate was attempting to stop him were ‘1 million percent false.'”

Needless to say, Dweezil disputes his brother’s version of events, offering a detailed description of the economic hardship imposed by the Zappa Family Trust’s handling of the Zappa Plays Zappa brand — which he not only built over more than a decade of live performances, but he argues enriched the same estate whose resources are now being used to prevent him from playing under the family name. In fact, he claims the trust has sought to keep him from even using his own first name for public performance — an allegation that will no doubt come up during what promises to be a months-long trial.

In the meantime, Zappa reminds fans that he’s working on new recordings through PledgeMusic — a campaign that reached its crowdfunding goal, but is now undergoing a sort of soft relaunch in an effort to hit 200 percent of its original mark.

“If we win, my right to continue touring and playing — and fans’ rights to experience — the music will be vindicated: Music wins,” writes Zappa. “If somewhere along the line, it becomes too expensive for me to continue fighting, the dark side of the industry will have triumphed in silencing the music.”

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