It seems like a new low to take the intellectual property of a non-profit group to make a buck, but that’s what Jay Z’s company ROC Apparel is accused of in a new Trademark Infringement case. According to TMZ, “ Hoodlove, LLC — a for-profit company dedicated to improving poverty stricken communities — filed the lawsuit against ROC Apparel Group earlier this month … over one specific shirt in the Rocawear line, which reads HoodLove in giant letters.”
Hoodlove says it has owned the trademark since 2006 — and claims Jay’s company came along and started using the name, without their consent or a licensing agreement. According court documents filed by Hoodlove, “unauthorized use of the Infringing Apparel is likely to cause confusion” and “deceive customers” into “mistakenly” believing Rocawear’s and Hoodlove’s goods are “affiliated.” I hope Jay Z’s company does the right thing and compensates Hoodlove for the use of their trademark. I’ll never understand why big companies rip off smaller companies, or just ignore their trademark rights. Earlier this year, I wrote about how the Kardashians used the name Khroma for their make-up collection, ignoring the fact that Kroma was already a registered trademark of another party. Eventually, the Kardashians were forced to rebrand their make-up line (naming it, wait for it–Kardashian Beauty) to resolve the trademark infringement claims.
Seriously, as a small business and a trademark owner myself, I empathize with the little guys who follow the legal process, register their intellectual property, or just put a TM after the name they are using (signifying the intent to trademark, and then get ripped off by larger companies. Here’s hoping Jay Z does the right thing, until then, I hope the Rocawear Hoodlove shirts are outsold by Hoodlove, LLC .