3 March 2020TrademarksRory O'Neill

Public Enemy parts with Flavor Flav after Bernie Sanders dispute

Iconic rap group Public Enemy has dispensed with founding member Flavor Flav amid a dispute over the use of the band’s name in support of US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Group leader Chuck D announced yesterday, March 2, that co-founder Flav had been effectively sacked from the band, after Flav objected to several members of the group performing at a Sanders rally under the name ‘Public Enemy Radio’.

After the concert was announced late last month, Flavor Flav’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter on his behalf to Sanders accusing him of misappropriating the rapper’s name in support of a “fictional revolution”.

“We have become aware that Flavor’s bandmate and Public Enemy co-creator, Chuck D, has endorsed Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for president and plans to perform at an upcoming Sanders rally,” the letter read.

“While Chuck is certainly free to express his political view as he sees fit—his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy,” it continues.

According to Flav, his name and likeness has become synonymous with that of Public Enemy, to the point that “there is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav”.

Chuck D wasted no time in hitting back at his long-time collaborator, accusing Flav of being motivated only by money.

His comments came as the group put out a statement announcing that they would be “moving forward without Flavor Flav”.

“If there was a $bag, Flav would’ve been there front & centre,” the rapper wrote on Twitter. “He will not do free benefit shows,” he added, explaining that part of the purpose of the Public Enemy Radio offshoot, which features several other band members, was to do political benefit shows.

A statement from the group, co-signed by four members including Chuck D, clarified that they did “not part ways with Flavor Flav over his political views”, adding that he had missed several gigs and recording sessions.

A lawyer for Public Enemy also told Rolling Stone magazine that, “from a legal standpoint, Chuck could perform as Public Enemy if he ever wanted to; he is the sole owner of the Public Enemy trademark”.

Chuck D, under his birth name Carlton Ridenhour, registered ‘Public Enemy’ as a US trademark in 2014, covering services including live music performances.

The news comes at a critical moment for Sanders’ campaign, as he heads into ‘Super Tuesday’ leading the race for the Democratic nomination for the November presidential election.

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