Diddy hits Global Brands Group with 2 lawsuits
Rapper and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs has launched two lawsuits against Global Brands Group (GBG), the owner of his Sean John label, in the space of less than a week.
Filed in the Southern District of New York federal court on February 4, the first complaint concerns GBG’s launch of a womenswear collaboration between UK-based fashion retailer Missguided and Sean John, which Combs founded as a menswear label in 1998.
According to the filing, Combs is seeking $25 million from GBG Sean John USA for “false endorsement, misappropriation of likeness and violating his publicity rights” in relation to the collection, which was released in September of last year.
The suit further explains that, while Combs recognizes the company’s rights to the Sean John trademark, he believes that, through its marketing efforts, GBG wrongly created the impression that he was personally involved in the collaboration, thereby misstating his connection to the collection.
The rapper claims that, even though he neither endorsed the collection nor approved of the use of his name to promote it, the defendants went so far as to falsify a quote from him to include in their marketing materials.
Combs’ second complaint was filed on February 10, also in New York federal court. This suit took issue with GBG Sean John USA’s use of the “Vote or Die” slogan on its merchandise.
As explained by the filing, the phrase is owned by political nonprofit Citizen Change, founded by Combs in 2004, as well as by CE Trademark, which is also operated by Combs.
“Rather than develop a new trademark for defendant’s politically-inspired merchandising efforts, defendant has engaged in bald opportunism by applying to register the mark ‘Vote Or Die after the USPTO administratively cancelled the registration originally obtained by Citizen Change,” states the complaint. “But that cancellation did not terminate the rights to the Vote Or Die mark that are owned by plaintiffs.”
According to the suit, the use of the “Vote or Die” trademark on GBG’s products therefore confuses consumers, who may believe that Combs or Citizen Change are connected to the merchandise in question.
GBG acquired a majority stake in the Sean John label for an unknown sum in 2016, with Combs maintaining a minority interest in the business.
GBG is yet to pass comment on the lawsuits.
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