Beyoncé is being sued by clothing designer Dwayne Walker over the use of the Roc-A-Fella logo in her 2013 music video for "Drunk in Love," according to court documents reviewed by Billboard. In multiple lawsuits in recent years, Walker claimed his design provided the basis of the logo for Jay Z, Damon Dash and Kareem "Biggs" Burke's record label in 1995 and is suing Jay's wife for impermissibly "prominently displaying" the image in her video. The suit was first reported by TMZ.
In the six-plus minute video, which has racked up 400 million views on YouTube as of press time, the logo appears briefly in her hand -- it's on Jay's infamous Roc chain hanging around his neck -- for less than a second at both 5:20 and 5:28 in the video (see below). Though it's Jay's chain and he's the one seen wearing it, Beyoncé is the only one named in Walker's suit.
This suit is the latest in Walker's attempts to receive compensation for allegedly designing the Roc's iconic image, which features a script "R" over a vinyl record with a champagne bottle substituting for a needle. In 2012, Walker filed a $7 million lawsuit against Jay, Dash, Roc-A-Fella and the label's current owner, Universal Music Group, alleging breach of contract and copyright infringement over the exploitation of his work and claiming he signed a contract with Dash that entitled him to royalties. The defendants disputed the claim, saying the image was designed by an in-house Roc-A-Fella art director.
This past September, a federal judge in New York dismissed the lawsuit, saying Walker had waited too long to bring his copyright claim and that the existence of the contract -- which Walker claimed he lost in 1998 -- could not be definitively proved. His lawyer, Gregory Berry, said Walker planned to appeal the decision.
"Drunk In Love" climbed to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming her 11th top five hit on the list after its release in December 2013. It also won two Grammys in 2015, for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance, and was nominated for Video of the Year at both the 2014 BET Awards and 2014 MTV Video Music Awards (the song won Best Collaboration at both events).
Jay has been involved in several court cases lately: a back-and-forth between Tidal, Roc Nation and Prince's estate over the exclusive streaming rights to Prince's music is ongoing; a copyright suit over Jay's Timbaland-produced hit "Big Pimpin'" is back in the courts on appeal after the two artists prevailed last fall; a separate copyright claim against Jay, Kanye West and Frank Ocean over the song "Made In America" was dismissed in October; the mogul filed a legal notice against the former owners of Tidal over misleading business practices this April; and he and Roc Nation prevailed in February in a suit against sound engineer Chauncey Mahan over ownership claims on recordings from Jay's 1999 album Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter.
Beyoncé herself won a lawsuit in September over her visual album Lemonade, in which indie filmmaker Matthew Fulks claimed the film and trailer borrowed heavily from his short film Palinoia, which was dismissed.
In Walker's suit against Beyoncé, he is asking the court to compel the singer to remove the scenes with the logo from the "Drunk In Love" video and to be paid unspecified damages as determined by a jury.