A rapper who goes by “Burberry Jesus” now owes the British fashion designer Burberry Ltd. nearly $140,000 after a Chicago federal court ruled that his stage name amounted to trademark infringement.
In a ruling issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Marvin E. Aspen ordered the performer – real name Marvel Yarbrough – to hand over $137,000 in attorneys’ fees and $645 in costs incurred by Burberry’s attorneys from the firm Winston & Strawn.
Burberry Ltd., famous for its check-patterned apparel, sued Yarbrough last year on accusations that he had created an entire “Burberry-dependent persona.” He not only adopted the same name, Burberry said, but had mimicked the company’s logo and had worn a Burberry check suit on an album cover.
“He uses the fame and renown of the Burberry trademark for his own personal gain and to promote his music, garner media attention, grow a fan base, and unfairly trade off of Burberry’s goodwill, all to Burberry’s detriment,” the company wrote in a November 2020 complaint.
Rather than change his name, Burberry said Yarbrough had instead “surreptitiously filed a request in the Circuit Court of Cook County to improperly change his legal name from Marvel Yarbrough to Burberry Jesus.”
Earlier this year, after Yarbrough largely refused to participate in the case, Judge Aspen issued a so-called default judgment – a type of order issued when a defendant declines to respond to legal claims against them. The order barred him from using Burberry’s intellectual property in the future, and said he would eventually have to repay the designer’s legal fees, which resulted in Wednesday’s order.
Yarbrough could not immediately be located for comment.
Surprisingly, the lawsuit isn’t the first time Burberry has sued a rapper for using “Burberry” in a stage name. Back in 2015, the designer brought similar claims against Atlanta producer Perry Moise – best known for producing Lil Yachty’s debut single — over his use of the name “Burberry Perry.” The case against eventually ended with a similar default judgment, and Perry now goes by TheGoodPerry.