Design of Prince's Iconic Cloud Guitar at Center of Legal Battle

One of the most famous of Prince's many unique guitars - the Cloud has become the center of a legal battle between the late superstar's estate and the guitar's original builder.
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Back in July, it was announced that Prince's official website would begin selling Schecter-built replicas of his iconic Cloud guitar. Now, the design of the Cloud - one of the most famous of Prince's many unique guitars - has become the center of a legal battle between the late superstar's estate and the guitar's original builder.

Dave Rusan, the Minneapolis luthier who first built the guitar - which Prince would go on to immortalize during his climactic performance in the 1984 film, Purple Rain - for Prince in 1983, told Guitar World that he recently received a letter from the singer's estate asking him to give up the trademark for the design, which he obtained in early 2018.

Rusan built a total of three Clouds for Prince during the 1980s, and continued custom-producing them, for $8,000 apiece, in the years afterward. 

Dave Rusan holds the second guitar he made for Prince, as well as a custom plexiglass model for Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin.

Dave Rusan holds the second guitar he made for Prince, as well as a custom plexiglass model for Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin.

“I’ve been building replicas of the Cloud occasionally over the years since I did the ones for Prince,” Rusan told Guitar World. “It became more of a full-time endeavor after Prince’s death when interest in them took off. I’ve built around 15 so far and have orders for another 15.”

Of the dispute, Rusan said “The goal as to my dealings with Paisley Park is to resolve this conflict in a way that is equitable to both parties. 

“I want nothing from them other than to be left alone to make my guitars for appreciative fans of Prince and the guitar I made him to play in Purple Rain.”

Rusan said that he is considering starting a petition, or using crowd-funding to raise funds for a potential legal case. Rusan provides regular updates on the situation at the Rusan Guitarworks Facebook page.

Paisley Park Estate has yet to comment on the situation with Rusan.

 

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