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Understanding the Business Dispute Between Daryl Hall and John Oates


If you grew up in the 80s, or are a fan of 80s music, there is one duo whose music is so ubiquitous, that their songs almost define the attitude and style of that generation: Daryl Hall and John Oates. But despite the fact that the two paired to form some of the most iconic music of that generation, today, their relationship has soured, as the two are mired in what appears to be a bitter partnership dispute.

Selling Part of the LLC

The lawsuit revolves around Hall’s allegations that Oates apparently tried to sell, behind Hall’s back, half of the pair’s intellectual property assets. The allegation is that Oates tried to sell the LLC that holds many of the duo’s most valued assets, including their trademarks, royalties for their music, and the likenesses of the duo.

Hall says that the two had an agreement that prohibits such a sale, which makes sense—in many partnership agreements, or LLC management agreements, partners only want to be partners with the person they chose to be partners with.

It is quite common for partnerships or LLCs to have provisions prohibiting one partner or owner from selling his or her interest in a partnership.  Usually, when that happens the LLC’s management agreement or partnership agreement will give the non-selling partner the right to buy out the other partner’s interest, before the other partner or LLC manager can sell to a third party.

Hall has already obtained a temporary restraining order, preventing the sale of Oates’ assets to the separate company.

Dispute Over Performance Rights

This lawsuit is just the culmination of legal disputes between the two. Oates has partial credit for writing some of the duo’s songs, but the two have also been to arbitration over which of the two have the right to perform which song individually.

The performance rights create different legal issues. Technically, all that is needed to perform public songs is a license from a music licensing agency, like ASCAP or BMI. The venues commonly get that license, and so as long as either Hall or Oates played in public at a venue that had that license, most experts agree that neither can prevent the other from performing the songs in a public venue.

However, that general rule could have been altered by the terms of any partnership agreement between the two (court records in the case between them are sealed, so many details about the business relationship between the two are not known).

The Group Name

Some experts speculate that there could be a dispute between the two of them when it comes to representing themselves as “Hall and Oates.” So, even assuming one had full legal ability to perform the duo’s songs, that doesn’t mean that Hall or Oates, individually, could represent themselves as “Hall and Oates.”

Don’t let your LLC or partnership agreement go sour. Let us help you try to avoid problems before they happen. Call our West Palm Beach business attorneys with any questions you may have at Pike & Lustig today.




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