Lil Yachty is suing an NFT seller called Opulous for trademark infringement for allegedly using his name and likeness without permission to raise over $6.5 million in venture capital funds.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles federal court, Lil Yachty claimed Opulous launched an advertising blitz last summer for a “Lil Yachty NFT Collection” that would give buyers access to new music from the rapper, prominently featuring images of him and giving press interviews about the project.
Just one problem: Lil Yachty says he never gave the company permission to do any of that.
“Defendants knew that they did not have authorization to utilize plaintiff’s name, trademark or image… yet did so anyways because [it] was beneficial to Defendants’ commercial enterprise, in blatant and conscious disregard for plaintiff’s exclusive legal rights,” the rapper’s lawyers wrote.
Lil Yachty, whose real name is Miles Parks McCollum, says Opulous pitched his management team about a potential partnership, and that he joined a second call for a “a general introductory meeting,” but that the two sides never came close to signing a deal.
“There were no further communications between the parties, and accordingly no agreement or deal terms for plaintiff’s involvement in the defendants’ launch of the Opulous platform was ever reached,”
he wrote in the lawsuit
But even without approval, Opulous then allegedly announced it would launching a line of music NFTs and would be “kicking things off with a series of unmissable NFT drops led by world-famous artists including Lil Yachty.” That was allegedly followed by numerous social media posts featuring similar claims, as well as images of the rapper, the suit said.
The lawsuit also pointed to articles published by Music Business Worldwide, including one which reported the launch of “exclusive NFTs from Lil Yachty.” The article is still live on the outlet’s website as of Friday.
The lawsuit also claimed that Opulous and founder Lee James Parsons were able to parlay the attention into a purported $6.5 million in venture capital “to fund the next stage of its growth,” as detailed in another article on Music Business Worldwide.
“Defendants have never remitted any funds or earnings to Plaintiff despite generating millions of dollars from the use of his name, trademark, and image,” the rapper’s lawyers wrote.
The suit, which also named Parsons and his Ditto Music as defendants, claims a slew of different claims, including trademark infringement, unfair competition and a violation of Lil Yachty’s so-called right of publicity – the right to control how your name and likeness are commercially exploited.
Opulous didn’t immediately return a request for comment on Friday.
UPDATE: This story was updated Jan 30 at 11:01 pm EST to correct the description of the articles that appeared in Music Business Worldwide.