"In complete disregard for BIG’s rights, and with knowledge of the infringing nature of their actions, Defendants knowingly used Wallace’s image, without permission from nor compensation to BIG," the complaint reads. "Without hesitation, Defendants usurped Wallace’s image for the sole purpose of profiting from the sale of unauthorized and infringing products, and, specifically, posters, prints and other artwork."
The boards come from the collection "Greats x Chi," a partnership with hip-hop photographer Chi Modu, who is also named as a defendant in the complaint. The series uses many of Modu's photographs (including the Twin Towers shot) as decals on the snowboards, including photos of Tupac Shakur, Ol' Dirty Bastard and Eazy-E along with Wallace. For now, the snowboards featuring Wallace appear to have been removed from the company's website.
It's far from the first time a brand has used the legendary rapper's image on products, but this time, BIG argues, it was done without proper licensing. BIG -- which is managed by Wallace's mother, Voletta Wallace, and his widow, R&B singer Faith Evans -- claims the company asked Yes Snowboards to stop selling the boards, also demanding compensation for the sales of those products. But, the complaint argues, "Defendants intentionally and in bad faith gained access to and intentionally sold the Infringing Products to purposely profit from the Property Rights."
The lawsuit is seeking an injunction against Yes, along with all profits the company made off the products and unspecified damages.
"At a time where fame and popularity for musicians comes and goes on an accelerated time scale," the complaint continues, "it is hard to quantify the power -- both emotional and financial -- of a musician whose brand and persona are still appreciated, recognized, and replicated more than two decades after his death."
Representatives for Yes Snowboards did not immediately respond to requests for comment.