The move comes six months after Sheeran, 31, was cleared of copying his hit song Shape Of You at a trial in London. Seeking damages of up to £90million, the complaint over Thinking Out Loud was originally lodged in 2016 by Structured Asset Sales, which owns a stake in the copyrights of late American singer Ed Townsend, who co-wrote the soul classic.
The claim alleges Sheeran and his co-writer Amy Wadge “copied and exploited, without authorisation or credit” the 1973 song, “including but not limited to the melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping”.
On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that the Suffolk-based star must face a jury.
The judge wrote: “There is no bright-line rule that the combination of two unprotectable elements is insufficiently numerous to constitute an original work.
“Although the two compositions are not identical, a jury could find that the overlap between the songs’ combination of chord progression and harmonic rhythm is very close.”
At the Shape Of You trial in March, a High Court judge concluded Sheeran and his co-writers had “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” plagiarised a 2015 song written by Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue.
He awarded them £900,000 in costs.