Coverage: Run-DMC says Amazon.com, Wal-Mart be illin’
A founder of rap music group Run-DMC on Thursday filed a lawsuit accusing Amazon.com Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of selling a wide variety of clothing and accessories bearing the music group’s name without permission.
Jonathan Stempel of Reuters has the news:
Darryl McDaniels, the owner of Run-DMC Brand LLC, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, is seeking at least $50 million of damages from the retailers and other defendants over their alleged sale of glasses, hats, patches, T-shirts, wallets and other products that infringe the Run-DMC trademark registered in 2007.
McDaniels called the Run-DMC brand “extremely valuable,” and said it is the subject of several licensing agreements, including to endorse sneakers from Adidas AG.
He said the defendants are confusing consumers into believing that Run-DMC endorsed their products and are trading on the goodwill associated with the name, in violation of federal trademark and New York unfair competition laws.
“Plaintiff will suffer immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage” unless the infringements are stopped, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Other defendants include Jet.com, an online retailer that Wal-Mart bought, and a variety of companies that do business with Amazon or sell products through Amazon.
Colin Stutz of Billboard reports that Run-DMC items produce millions in revenue each year:
Run-D.M.C. is seeking an accounting of all sales of the defendants’ products that were advertised as being related to Run-D.M.C. or directly use its trademark, as well as an injunction and restraining order against sales and promotion of these products.
The lawsuit also cites previous licensing agreements for the Run-D.M.C. trademark to show its worth, including one for $1.6 million to Adidas for a line of sneakers. It also states the Run-D.M.C. brand has produced revenue in excess of $100 million from the intellectual property associated with the trademark “RUN-DMC” since its inception in the 1980s, including the sale of music, music publishing, concerts, merchandising and endorsement deals.
Without a full accounting, it’s unclear how much money Run-D.M.C. is hoping to receive but the lawsuit claims the amount in controversy exceeds $50 million.
Run-D.M.C. asserts the allegedly infringing products have diluted the group’s brand as arguably the most well-known group in the history or hip-hop, saying the defendants have “harmed RUN-DMC’s ability to utilize, market, promote and sell products with its registered trademark.”
Kevin McCoy of USA Today reports that the band has multiple products:
Examples include old-school black-frame glasses often sported by Darryl McDaniels — best known to fans and music lovers as DMC — one of the band’s founders and the trademark’s owner, the lawsuit charged. He owns 200 pairs of similar glasses, “the better to see what’s going on in the world,” according to an entry on the band’s official website.
An exhibit filed with the court complaint also showed shirts, hats and other merchandise like some worn by McDaniels, Joseph “Reverend Run” Simmons, and Jason “Jam Master J” Mizell when the trio shot to music and cultural stardom from their 1980s start in the Hollis, Queens neighborhood of New York City.
The band members, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 for a string of hits that include “It’s Like That,” “My Adidas,” and “You Be Illin,” no longer perform together but are widely considered as rap elder statesmen. Mizell died in an unsolved 2002 shooting.
“The number of infringing materials” allegedly marketed and sold by the companies “are too numerous to properly list,” according to the lawsuit, which alleged the retailers’ actions have “harmed RUN-DMC in its business.”