"DJ Logic" Not Famous Enough to Win Trademark Case Against Rapper "Logic"

Kibler v. Hall, No. 15-2516 (6th Cir. Dec. 13, 2016).

The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for defendants, holding that a disc jockey named "DJ Logic" was not famous enough to succeed on his trademark dilution claims against the rapper performing as "Logic" and there was no likelihood of consumer confusion.  As to the trademark infringement claim, the parties agreed that the DJ's mark was protectable so the Court focused on "the likelihood that potential buyers of rap would believe Kibler’s music is Hall’s or vice-versa." and applied the 6th Circuit's balancing-test to find that "because no reasonable jury could find a likelihood of confusion based solely on a few instances of actual confusion, defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Kibler’s federal trademark infringement and related state law claims."  As to the dilution claim, 

Kibler’s evidence clearly falls short of the high threshold for fame under the Lanham Act. “DJ LOGIC” is simply in a different league from the marks that have met this threshold. Indeed, having failed to show that his mark is commercially strong for even trademark infringement purposes, Kibler cannot point to a triable issue here.

Will.i.am Denied Registration of :I AM" Trademark For Sunglasses

In re i.am.symbolic, llc, Serial Nos. 85044495 (TTAB mailed Oct. 7, 2015).

Black Eyed Peas frontman, "will.i.am," was refused registration of the mark I AM for use on sungalsses, on the basis of an existing mark for sunglasses for which there was a finding of likelihood of confusion.  However, the application was permitted to proceed for other goods identified in the application under Class 9.

Bob Marley Heirs Succeed On Appeal In Merchandising Case

Fifty-Six Hope Road Music v. A.V.E.L.A., No 12-17502 (9th Cir. Feb. 20, 2015).

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed judgment in favor of Bob Marley's heirs based on defendants' use of Bob Marley's image on t-shirts and other merchandise in a manner likely to cause confusion as to Plaintiffs' sponsorship of approval of the merchandise.  Additionally, the Court found that Defendants have waived several defenses by failing to properly raise them in the district court.  The appellate court also found that the lower court had not abused its discretion in determining defendant's profits and there was a sufficient evidence to find that defendants willfully infringed plaintiff's rights.  Nor did the lower court err in awarding plaintiffs their attorney's fees, as plaintiffs were the prevailing parties, and defendants' conduct was willful.  Plaintiffs also succeeded on their tortious interference claims because Plaintiffs' licensing agent testified that one of Plaintiffs' licensees lost an order intended for Wal-Mart because defendant sold t-shirts there. Defendants did succeed, however, in dismissing the right of publicity claim because under Nevada law a publicity right successor waives its publicity rights when it fails to timely register its rights.

Taylor Swift Faces Trademark Action Concerning Merchandise

Blue Sphere, Inc. v. Swift, Case No. SACV 14-00782-CJC (C.D. Cal. Sep. 17, 2014).

The Court denied country-star Taylor Swift's motion to dismiss plaintiff's trademark infringement and dilution case.  Defendants contended that Plaintiffs had failed to show a likelihood of confusion.  The Court found that while it is possible that Plaintiffs may not be able to present sufficient evidence to survive a summary judgment motion, they had plausibly alleged facts to survive a motion to dismiss.  Plaintiffs alleged that they own the mark LUCKY 13, and further alleged that the Defendants’ use of the identical LUCKY 13 mark in connection with the sale of t-shirts online and through the online promotion of a “Lucky 13 Sweepstakes” is likely to cause confusion.  The Court also found that Plaintiffs sufficiently alleged that the mark is famous so that the dilution claim survived.

Trademark Claim Over Band Name Dismissed For Lack Of Standing And Failure To State A Claim

Newsboys v. Warner Bros. Records Inc. et al., No. 3:12-cv-0678 (M.D. Tenn. - Nashville filed July 11, 2013) [Doc. 41].

Plaintiffs filed suit under the Lanham Act against defendants -- music distributors and the band New Boyz -- alleging trademark infringement of the mark NEWSBOYS.  The court concluded that the plaintiffs Newsboys Inc. lacked standing to pursue its claims because the other plaintiff, Wesley Campbell, is the sole owner of the Newboys trademark.  Also, the Court concluded that because Campbell's registered trademark is limited to "live musical performances of a religious nature rendered by a group," he had failed to allege plausible facts of the likelihood of confusion of the two groups.