Strange Music Inc., the label co-founded by veteran rapper Tech N9ne and Travis O’Guin, is alleging trademark infringement against Strainge Entertainment LLC.
Kansas City-based Strange Music is demanding a jury trial as it seeks preliminary and permanent injunction against Los Angeles-based Strainge Entertainment, which is headed by founder Elliot Grainge, the son of Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge.
Both Strange Music and Strainge Entertainment are independent record labels focusing on rap and hip-hop. Strange Music, whose artist roster includes Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko and Rittz, is distributed through INgrooves via Universal Music Group. Trippie Redd, Reo Cragun and Third World Don are listed as artists signed to Strainge Entertainment, which is distributed through Caroline/Capitol Music Group/Universal.
“We have spent more than 17 years building Strange Music literally from the ground up,” O’Guin tells Billboard. “We’ve worked painstakingly hard to build a very credible and stellar reputation. So we’re very focused on protecting our trademarks, which are very valuable to us. This is our namesake. You have to protect your brand at all times. And that’s simply what we’re doing at this point.”
In the 24-page lawsuit filed yesterday (Oct. 3) with U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri (Kansas City Division), Strange alleges that Strainge violated Strange Music’s intellectual property rights by “unlawfully adopting the STRAINGE Marks, which are confusingly similar to the STRANGE Marks as used in connection with identical goods and services in the music industry.” Stating as well that “consumers are already confused, and are likely to continue to be confused,” Strange Music also contends that “on several occasions throughout the years, Caroline made overtures trying to get Strange Music to join the Caroline label. But Strange Music was not interested.”
The suit further states that “Strainge Entertainment adopted the Strainge Marks egregiously, willfully, and intentionally to try to capitalize on Strange Music’s notoriety, goodwill, and reputation in the music industry.” In addition to a preliminary and permanent injunction against Strainge Entertainment, Strange is seeking actual damages (“in an amount to be proven at trial”), legal costs and attorneys’ fees.
Billboard has reached out to Strainge Entertainment’s Elliot Grainge and Caroline/Capitol Music for comment.