Walmart (NYSE:WMT) has been hit with a multi-million lawsuit by rap group Run-DMC for selling products that traded on the group’s name and logo without permission. Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, a founder of the group and owner of the Run-DMC brand, is listed as the plaintiff in the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed Thursday in the Southern District of New York.
The lawsuit has also named Amazon, Jet, Vision World, Infinity Fashion and SW Global as defendants, accusing them of similar activities. All are Amazon business partners, the lawsuit alleges. Wal-Mart also owns Jet.
The complaint alleged that the retailers have improperly profited from the Run-DMC brand by “advertising, selling, manufacturing, promoting and distributing multiple products” in the group’s trademarked name. The products include hats, t-shirts, glasses, patches, and wallets, among other items.
Some of the products use the group’s name in their title or description but not the logo. Others blatantly use the group’s logo on items claiming to be “RUN-DMC styled” products. According to the lawsuit, “The number of infringing materials are too numerous to properly list.” The complaint also says that the defendants are confusing consumers by erroneously implying that the group had endorsed the merchandise.
The lawsuit asks the court to award $50 million with interest, as well as attorney’s fees. The lawsuit shows previous licensing agreements for the Run-D.M.C. trademark, including one for $1.6 million to Adidas, to demonstrate its worth. The lawsuit also asks for an accounting of all sales of the defendants’ products that infringed on its trademark and an injunction and restraining order against the future sale and promotion of these products.
Run-D.M.C. is arguably the most well-known group in the history of hip-hop. The group was founded in 1981 in the Hollis, Queens neighborhood of New York City by McDaniels, Joseph “Run” Simmons, and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell. The group became well known for hits like “King of Rock, “It’s Tricky,” “My Adidas,” “You Be Illin,” and “Can You Rock It Like This.”
Run-DMC has generated more than $100 million in revenue since its inception. In 2009, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Only two rap acts have ever been awarded that honor.
The group no longer performs together. Mizell was fatally shot in his Queens recording studio in 2002. The case remains unsolved.