Amazon and Walmart have found themselves in a tricky, tricky, trrrrrricky lawsuit with none other than hip-hop group Run-DMC. (This is the group behind the catchy tune “It’s Tricky.”)
A founder of hip-hop trio Run-DMC filed a $50 million lawsuit in the Southern District of New York saying that the superstores Amazon and Walmart, and other powerful retailers, are infringing on the Run-DMC federally registered trademark logo for products they are selling that have not been authorized by Run-DMC.
According to the lawsuit, Darryl McDaniels, the owner of Run-DMC Brand LLC, and the plaintiff in the suit, is seeking at least $50 million in damages from the mega retailers. The suit alleges the seller-defendants are “trading on the goodwill” of the Run-DMC, which has generated $100 million in revenue since the 1980s, by “advertising, selling, manufacturing, promoting and distributing multiple product[s],” including patches, sunglasses, hats, T-shirts, wallets and numerous other items.
McDaniels states the the Run-DMC brand is “extremely valuable,” pointing to lucrative licensing agreements which include a $1.6 million agreement with Adidas AG to endorse sneakers. He further stated that seller-defendants are confusing consumers into believing that Run-DMC endorsed the seller-defendant’s products and are trading on the goodwill with the name, which is in violation of federal trademark and New York unfair competition laws.
The red-and-white box lettered “Run-DMC” logo is instantly recognizable and received federal trademark registration in 2007 as both a service mark and trademark for the following classes (1) Class 9: “series of musical, sound and video recordings,”(2) Class: 25 “clothing, namely T-shirts, hats, jackets and shoes”, and (3) Class 41: “entertainment in the nature of live musical performances.”
Run DMC’s logo has taken on a something of a life of its own in the last several years. T-shirts emblazoned with the famous red-and-white-box lettered logo have become highly desirable for many young people whether they are true followers and fans of the music or not. The shirts are very popular and consistently sell well.
Run-DMC was founded in New York City in 1981 by McDaniels, Joseph “Run” Simmons, and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell. The trio is often touted as hip-hop legends and are a respected force in hip-hop. It has been over a decade since the group disbanded, but during their time together their albums broke into the top 10 of the Billboard 200 and were the second hip-hop act to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The case is Run-DMC Brand LLC v Amazon.com Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-10011.