Jay-Z’s Roc Nation is fighting back in a lawsuit over its special edition baseball caps.
Iconix Brand Group sued Roc Nation, Shawn Carter (aka Jay-Z), New Era, Major League Baseball Properties and others in May, claiming in 2007 it paid $204 million for certain Roc Nation intellectual property and a specialty line of hats undermines that deal, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In a Friday filing, Roc Nation Apparel Group [RNAG] denies any wrongdoing and hits back with half a dozen affirmative defenses. It is also countersuing Iconix for breach of implied license.
RNAG attorney Andrew Bart argues that while Rocawear Licensing sold the Rocawear business to Iconix in 2007, Roc Nation wasn’t founded until the next year and therefore was not included in the asset purchase agreement.
Bart argues another 2013 agreement granted RNAG an exclusive license to use the ROC NATION mark for “licensed products” including apparel, footwear, and headwear.
Additionally, RNAG claims Iconix was fully aware of the ongoing exploitation of the mark and breached that implied license by filing the lawsuit in an effort to destroy the company’s business relationships.
Roc Nation Apparel Group is seeking dismissal of Iconix’s complaint, damages for reputational harm, lost goodwill and future lost profits and also attorneys’ fees.
Meanwhile, Jay-Z on Friday asked the court to dismiss him from the lawsuit.
“Despite its length, the Complaint lacks any allegations that describe Mr. Carter’s purported involvement in the alleged infringement and anticompetitive behavior,” writes attorney Jordan Siev. “[U]nder well-established New York law, a person’s mere status as an owner, officer, or director of a company, without more, is an insufficient basis to hold him individually liable for actions taken by the company. Plaintiffs’ attempt to use Mr. Carter and his celebrity status to advance their claims is improper and should not be tolerated.”
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(Photo by Michael N. Todaro/FilmMagic)