Concert promoter Guerrilla Union Inc. must stop using the title of LL Cool J’s 1985 song “Rock the Bells” without the rapper’s permission, a California federal judge ruled Tuesday.
In a three-page judgment handed down by U.S. district judge Dale S. Fischer, the company was ordered to permanently refrain from “manufacturing, transporting, promoting, importing, advertising, publicizing, distributing, offering for sale, or selling any goods or services” under the “Rock the Bells” name, finding LL Cool J the “exclusive owner” of those that trademark. By May 10, the company must turn over all items bearing the trademark to the rapper for destruction, as well as provide him with account administration over the rockthebells.net website, “Rock the Bells”-branded social media handles and any associated email accounts.
Guerrilla Union continues to use the “Rock the Bells” name on its web domain and social media accounts despite LL Cool J’s successful 2017 petition to have their trademarks cancelled. The company put on a series of Rock the Bells hip-hop festivals from 2004-2013 until shuttering them due to poor ticket sales and tax issues.
LL Cool J (real name James Todd Smith) filed the current suit against Guerrilla Union in November 2018 after previously attempting to settle the matter out of court. He accused the company of trademark infringement, cyber piracy, false designation of origin affiliation or association and unfair competition for using the “Rock the Bells” name despite previously having lost the rights to it.
If Guerrilla Union fails to comply within the specified timeframe, all “Rock the Bells” accounts existing online will be transferred to LL Cool J without their cooperation. The judgment also left the door open for the rapper to move for contempt and/or sanctions against the company if it refuses to satisfy the demands.
According to court documents, Guerrilla Union has not responded or filed any opposition to the lawsuit, and does not appear to have retained counsel in the matter.
“Rock the Bells” was the third single off LL Cool J’s debut album, Radio. Produced by Rick Rubin, it peaked at No. 17 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The rapper has since file his own trademark registrations for use of the name on merchandise and other goods and services, including a Rock the Bells SiriusXM channel launched in March 2018.