This week rap superstar Young Jeezy’s 8732 Apparel was sued by Hell’s Angels for trademark infringement of their iconic “Death Head” logo. According to reports, Jeezy’s 8732 Apparel, specifically a denim vest which is being carried by national retailers, contains a logo and design that is deemed to look too similar to the Hell’s Angels’ logo.
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The design is not an exact copy of the Hell’s Angels’ logo, but is “uncannily similar.” The Hell’s Angels are not arguing that Young Jeezy’s apparel will “dilute” their mark, but they do believe it is likely to cause confusion and they are seeking an unspecified amount of damages along with an injunction on the sale of the items that use the infringing logo.
What Does This Mean?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office and Library of Congress provide national protection for both trademarks and copyrights on the national level. This intellectual property protection allows the rightful owners of marks and copyrights to ward off duplication and dilution of their property because such unlawful behavior may cause serious damage to the owners. In this case, someone seeking to purchase Hell’s Angels merchandise may mistake Young Jeezy’s apparel as such and make the wrong purchase due to the similar logos.
The Hell’s Angels have filed for trademark protection of their Death Head logo and therefore has a right to obtain an injunction (i.e. – a cease and desist) to stop 8732 Apparel from making, marketing and selling the product to the public. The Hell’s Angels have existed for more than 65 years, therefore not only do they have federal protection over their logo, they also have iconic status which is easy to prove ownership of the mark.
How Does This Affect You? :
If you are a budding fashion designer, or even an owner of a small tee shirt line, you must be cognizant of the designs, logos, photos, etc. you choose for your garments and pieces to avoid infringement claims. As 8732 Apparel is being carried by national retailers, the Hell’s Angels (who are not new to suing to protect their logo) felt it was necessary to stop sales of the alleged infringing garment because it may have been and could possibly affect their sales and profits in the future.
Additionally, if you are the owner of a mark that has received national protection via the USPTO, you should seek to police and enforce said protection. If someone is utilizing your logo or a mark that is very similar to your logo, you should demand that they cease and desist because it could dilute the value of your mark and also keep money out of your pockets. If that demand does not yield favorable results, it is then time to consult with an attorney.
Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.
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