LL Cool J Files Lawsuit Against Rock the Bells Festival for Trademark Infringement, Cybersquatting
The festival founders maintain a website and social network channels using the mark, despite folding in 2013 and losing rights to the mark.
LL Cool J is taking legal action against the founders of the now-defunct Rock the Bells music festival, accusing the company of trademark infringement, cyber piracy and more for maintaining a website and several social media channels using the same name of his 1985 hit single.
"Rock the Bells" was the third single off LL Cool J's debut album, Radio, and peaked at No. 17 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The rapper -- whose real name is James Todd Smith -- has since used the mark on merchandise and last March launched his own Rock the Bells channel on SiriusXM.
Meanwhile, the Rock the Bells festival ran from 2004-2013, initially launching in Southern California and expanding to country-wide tours with international iterations.
As the lawsuit states, Guerilla Division filed trademark registrations over a decade ago for use of "Rock the Bells" in association with live events and various pieces of merchandise -- each of which were granted. But the Rock the Bells festival ended in 2013 after poor ticket sales and tax problems. And, last year, LL Cool J petitioned to cancel Guerilla Division's trademarks of "Rock the Bells" on the grounds it had abandoned its use and its renewal had been fraudulently obtained. Those judgements were granted in LL Cool J's favor, without appeal, and the rapper has since proceeded to file his own trademark registrations for use of the phrase across various goods and services.
Still, Guerilla Division continues to make a limited, passive use of the trademark without LL Cool J's permission by maintaining the rockthebells.net website and the @rockthebells social media handles. After sending three letters this summer to Guerilla Division requesting the transfer of the domain name and social media handles that received no response, LL Cool J is seeking an injunction against such continued use, alleging damage or potential damage to his trademark, business reputation and goodwill.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-nominated rapper is alleging trademark infringement, false designation of origin affiliation or association, cyberpiracy and unfair competition. In addition to the injunction, he is also seeking any profits from Guerilla Division's use of the trademark, recovery from any losses, punitive damages and his attorneys' fees.