The Imperials, one of Christian music's most popular singing groups in the 1970s and early '80s, are currently embroiled in a complex legal battle over who owns the group's name and who gets to reap the profits from that name.
Armond Morales, who in 1964 cofounded the group that went on to win four Grammys and 13 Dove Awards, and his wife, Bonnie, are being sued for the Imperials name by a younger group that includes Armond's son, Jason Morales.
That younger group four singers who say they're now the "real" Imperials claims that when the elder Morales signed an assignment of trademark in 2005, he transferred ownership of the name to the four singers in the current lineup.
Armond Morales, 75, told Christianity Today he did not consult an attorney before signing the assignment, and now says he was pressured into signing away more than he bargained for, and perhaps more than he owned the rights to.
"They have set out to really put me out of business and have no connection with the Imperials, which was my life," Morales said. "I've been devastated by this."
The younger group filed a lawsuit in June 2007. Armond's attorneys drafted a countersuit in September 2007, claiming that the younger group fraudulently got him to sign the 2005 agreement. But the elder Morales said he decided to drop the countersuit due to financial limitations.
A Nashville judge ordered the two sides to mediation in hopes that they would settle out of court.
Luke Anderson, an attorney representing the younger group, said he believes the case will end up in court later this year. Anderson said his clients "remain wishful [for a settlement], but also skeptical that this matter will settle at this point."
CT obtained a copy of the 2005 assignment ...1