Amazon, Walmart and other retailers are being sued for $50 million for allegedly infringing on the trademark of iconic rap and hip-hop group RUN-DMC.
The stores "are trading on the goodwill" of the band and confusing consumers by "advertising, manufacturing, selling and distributing multiple products" that erroneously imply the group endorsed the merchandise, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Examples include old-school black-frame glasses often sported by Darryl McDaniels — best known to fans and music lovers as DMC — one of the band's founders and the trademark's owner, the lawsuit charged. He owns 200 pairs of similar glasses, "the better to see what's going on in the world," according to an entry on the band's official website.
An exhibit filed with the court complaint also showed shirts, hats and other merchandise like some worn by McDaniels, Joseph "Reverend Run" Simmons, and Jason "Jam Master J" Mizell when the trio shot to music and cultural stardom from their 1980s start in the Hollis, Queens neighborhood of New York City.
The band members, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 for a string of hits that include "It's Like That," "My Adidas," and "You Be Illin," no longer perform together but are widely considered as rap elder statesmen. Mizell died in an unsolved 2002 shooting.
"The number of infringing materials" allegedly marketed and sold by the companies "are too numerous to properly list," according to the lawsuit, which alleged the retailers' actions have "harmed RUN-DMC in its business."
Along with Amazon and Walmart, the court complaint targets retailers Jet.com, Vision World, Infinity Fashion and SW Global. All are Amazon business partners, the lawsuit alleges.
The companies either could not be reached or did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on the lawsuit. Christopher Brown, a Boston-based attorney who filed the case, similarly did not return a message seeking comment.