4 May 2017Trademarks

Jay-Z hit with baseball cap TM claims

US rapper Jay-Z and his companies including Roc Nation have been hit with a trademark lawsuit centring on baseball caps.

Brand management company Iconix Brand Group filed its suit at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 27.

It claimed that in 2007, Iconix acquired the ‘Roc Nation’ mark in class 25 and IP rights from Rocawear Licensing for $204 million.

Six years after this, a dispute arose between Iconix and Roc Nation about use of the name and logo. The exact cause of the disagreement is unclear because the details have been redacted.

Iconix said that its marks, including ‘Roc Nation’, are widely recognised by the public and “have garnered goodwill of incalculable value”.

According to the suit, one of the defendants (but Iconix is unsure which) and cap maker New Era entered into an agreement where New Era would make and sell baseball caps featuring the ‘Roc Nation’ mark and logo and a logo of a paper plane, which is “recognised as being affiliated with Nation”.

The special edition hats also bear the New Era logo and Major League Baseball (MLB) logo, along with an actual Major League Baseball team logo or name, blending the ‘Roc Nation’ mark with “other distinguished and distinctive marks”.

In March this year, New Era became the official baseball cap of MLB, said the suit.

Iconix claimed that by selling the caps, Roc Nation Apparel Grouphas simply continued to use the ‘Roc Nation’ mark without authorisation as a “rogue holdover licensee”.

“As a result, Shaun Carter (Jay-Z) and his various companies … have deliberately undermined a series of agreements, after receiving millions in substantial compensation from plaintiffs, by continuing to use and exploit in business the very property already conveyed to Iconix … by contract,” it added.

Iconix is seeking injunctive relief, punitive and triple damages, profits, a jury trial, and attorneys’ fees.

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More on this story

31 October 2017   US rapper Jay-Z and his companies including Roc Nation have reacted to a trademark infringement complaint filed earlier this year by countersuing for breach of licence.
2 August 2018   Singer Beyoncé has waged war on sellers of fake merchandise amid her global “On the Run II” tour with husband Jay-Z.
29 November 2018   US rapper Jay-Z has claimed that there aren’t enough African-Americans to hear arbitration of a trademark dispute with brand management company Iconix Brand Group, in a bid to stop the case.