The Legal Beat: Lizzo’s ‘100% That B-tch’ Trademark Win – Plus Taylor Swift, Kanye & More
Also this week: Jay-Z settles a bitter fight with Bacardi over D'Ussé Cognac, Coachella sues an event called "Moechella," and much more.
This is The Legal Beat, a weekly newsletter about music law from Billboard Pro, offering you a one-stop cheat sheet of big new cases, important rulings and all the fun stuff in between. This week: Lizzo wins a key ruling in her efforts to secure trademark protection for “100% That B-tch,” Taylor Swift calls a lawsuit over her Lovers companion book “legally and factually baseless,” Kanye’s lawyers finally track him down long enough to drop him as a client, and much more.
THE BIG STORY: Lizzo Is Now – Legally Speaking – ‘100% That B-tch’
A Grammy for record of the year wasn’t all Lizzo won last week.
Just days before her big Grammy win on Sunday (Feb. 5), a tribunal at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sided with the superstar in her quest to secure a federal trademark registration for “100% That B-tch” – the iconic lyric from her breakout single, “Truth Hurts.”
Last year, the agency had rejected Lizzo’s application for the trademark on the grounds that it was merely a commonplace “motivational phrase” aimed at “female empowerment,” not the kind of unique brand name that’s eligible for trademark protection.
But the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board overturned that ruling last week, saying that consumers who see the phrase on apparel would likely “associate the term with Lizzo and her music.”
For a full breakdown of Lizzo’s legal victory, including access to all the actual court documents, go read our story here.
Other top stories this week…
SWIFT RIPS COPYRIGHT SUIT – Taylor Swift‘s attorneys asked a federal judge to toss out a copyright case claiming the star stole aspects of a self-published book of poetry when she created a companion book for her album Lover, calling it “a lawsuit that never should have been filed.”
LAW FIRM FINDS KANYE – After months of searching, attorneys from the law firm Greenberg Traurig said they had finally tracked down Kanye West and formally notified him that he’s no longer a client of the firm, ending a bizarre ordeal in which the lawyers said they’d be willing to run newspaper ads to be rid of the disgraced rapper.
COGNAC UNDER THE BRIDGE – Jay-Z and Bacardi reached an agreement to end bitter litigation over their D’Ussé Cognac brand. Under the deal, Bacardi will take over a “majority interest” in the company, which was previously split 50-50 between the two sides.
COACHELLA v. MOECHELLA – The organizers of Coachella filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the operators of a Washington, D.C.-based music event called “Moechella,” accusing the smaller group of confusing consumers with the similar name.
RAPHY PINA LOSES APPEAL – A federal appeals court upheld a federal gun conviction against Daddy Yankee’s manager Raphy Pina, citing “overwhelming” evidence. The court overturned a separate conviction over an illegal automatic weapon, but it’s unclear if the ruling will reduce Pina’s 41-month sentence.
NICK CARTER STRIKES BACK – Two months after Nick Carter was hit with a civil lawsuit claiming he raped a 17-year-old girl on his tour bus in 2001, the Backstreet Boys member filed a countersuit claiming the allegations were the product of a “five-year conspiracy,” designed to extort him by coopting the #MeToo movement.