Jay-Z‘s got a lot of legal drama on his plate right now, but it seems there’s always room for more when you’re one of Forbes‘ Hip-Hop Cash Kings. Now, his Roc Nation Apparel Group is being sued by Iconix Brand Group along with New Era, Major League Baseball Properties and others over, of all things, branded baseball caps, according to the files obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
Iconix Brand Group filed the suit in May, claiming in 2007 it paid $204 million for certain Roc Nation intellectual property and that a specialty line of hats undermines that deal. Now, Roc Nation Apparel group is countersuing Iconix for breach of implied license.
Roc Nation’s attorney Andrew Bart asserts that while Rocawear Licensing sold the Rocawear business to Iconix in 2007, Roc Nation wasn’t founded until the next year, so it shouldn’t be included in the asset purchase agreement. It gets a little complicated from there, but according to a 2013 agreement, Roc Nation did agree to allow Iconix to sell “Roc Nation”-branded goods so long as Roc Nation gave permission, but that agreement didn’t grant Iconix ownership of the brand mark, which is important to Roc Nation’s countersuit.
“[I]n 2013 Plaintiffs wrongfully took the position that the APA had conveyed to them the right to sell apparel under the ROC NATION mark,” Bart wrote in the countersuit filling, “”Since RNAG does not own or operate manufacturing facilities directly, Section 10(i) of the License expressly authorized RNAG to seek out and engage third-party manufacturers to produce Licensed Products, provided that such third-party manufacturers signed a Manufacturer’s Agreement.”
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. The contention is that by suing them, Iconix is trying to prevent them from doing business with other partners and killing future opportunities.
Jay himself wants absolutely no involvement in the suit at all, asking 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,” wrote his 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.”