The estate of Ed Townsend, who co-wrote Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” has ended their court battle with Ed Sheeran over claims that Sheeran’s hit song “Thinking Out Loud” copied Gaye’s 1970s R&B track. In May, a federal court jury ruled in favor of Sheeran, stating that there was no copying of the iconic song. The Townsend estate had filed an appeal, but they recently withdrew the motion, ending the case. Sheeran’s lawyer suggested that the family dropped the appeal to avoid legal fees and costs.
The Townsend family originally filed the lawsuit in 2016, arguing that the compositions of “Thinking Out Loud” were significantly similar to the drum composition of “Let’s Get It On.” During the trial, the family’s lawyers played a video clip of Sheeran performing “Thinking Out Loud” and incorporating lyrics from Gaye’s song. However, Sheeran denied any intentional copying and asserted that the chord progression in both songs is commonly used in pop music.
This is not the only legal battle Sheeran has faced regarding “Thinking Out Loud.” Another case brought by Structured Asset Sales (SAS), claiming partial ownership of the right to receive royalties from “Let’s Get It On,” was also dismissed by a judge. SAS alleged similarities between the two songs, but the judge ruled that the chord progression used in “Let’s Get It On” was common and widely used before both songs were released. SAS plans to appeal the ruling. The withdrawal of the Townsend family’s appeal does not affect SAS’s ongoing cases against Sheeran.