24 November 2020CopyrightSarah Morgan

Burberry takes on ‘Burberry Jesus’ musician

UK-based fashion brand Burberry has accused musician Marvel Yarbrough of infringing trademarks and copyright by using the stage name ‘ Burberry Jesus’.

The suit, filed Friday, November 20 at the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, accused Yarbrough of going to “great lengths to create a Burberry-dependent persona”.

“Defendant adopted ‘Burberry Jesus’ as his stage name—which he often shortens to ‘Burberry’—with an intent to replicate the Burberry brand and copy its well-known trademarks that have been used exclusively and continuously by Burberry and its authorised licensees for more than 160 years,” said the filing.

According to Burberry, Yarbrough operates a website for commercial booking purposes, and he maintains social media accounts under the handle @BurberryJesus.

“On these social media accounts, defendant often posts photos and videos of himself in Burberry-branded merchandise, as well as his cars, which are vinyl-wrapped in prints bearing unauthorised copies of Burberry’s intellectual property,” added the fashion brand.

The suit went on to allege that Yarbrough also copied Burberry’s other trademarks, including its ‘Burberry Check’ trademark on his digital album covers and social media profile images, and mimicked the stylised ‘Burberry’ logo on his mixtape art.

Burberry claimed that this is the same stylised logo Burberry itself used on its “Burberry Acoustic”, “Live for Burberry”, and “Burberry 17 Years of Music” album and playlist covers, which it released as part of its music-driven projects and campaigns.

The fashion brand has allegedly undertaken “extensive efforts” to stop the infringing conduct, writing nearly a dozen times to Yarbrough, asking him to cease-and-desist.

However, while Yarbrough initially indicated he would comply, said Burberry, “subsequent events revealed that defendant’s cooperation was feigned, and he had no intention of complying with Burberry’s reasonable requests”.

The suit alleged that instead of cooperating with Burberry, Yarbrough filed a request to change his legal name from Marvel Yarbrough to Burberry Jesus, ten days after receiving the first cease-and-desist letter.

Burberry is seeking a permanent injunction against Yarbrough and a declaration that his name change is invalid.

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