Friday, October 3, 2008

Master P Sued by Pepe Jeans over “P”

A London jeans company named Pepe Jeans London LLC has filed a trademark infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Southern Distirct of New York against Percy Miller, Inc., the company through which famed gangsta rapper turned mulit-millionaire businessman Master P (real name Percy Miller) is producing his P. Miller Designs clothing line. The lawsuit also names Happy Nation Inc., the manufacturer of the clothing, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the exclusive retail seller of the clothing line. See Pepe Jeans London, LLC. et al v. Percy Miller, Inc. et al, Case No. 08-cv-08311 (S.D.N.Y. Filed September 26, 2008); see also news reports here and here.

Pepe Jeans is claiming that its “P” logo is confusing similar to the “P” used in P. Miller’s logo (see above). One news report (link here) quotes Miller as saying that he looked on the Pepe Jeans website and could not find any use of P in a circle logo. Miller also claims to have used the letter "P" enclosed in a circle since 1989 [Query – for what goods and services?]

Be that as it may, Pepe Jeans does have registered U.S. trademarks for the below “P” logo for the various clothing items including jeans, shirts, and caps (registered in 1998 and claiming first use in 1995); Footwear; and various types of bags -- and the stylization of the Pepe Jeans “P” logo is strikingly similar to the one that P. Miller uses.

Miller, calling the allegations frivolous, stated the following (news report here):

"I make clothes for underprivileged and underserved families. P. Miller Designs is about diversity. We cater to the African-American and Latino customer. I'm doing something positive for the community and I'm giving back. What are they doing? Hating? I thought this kind of thing only happened in the rap game. I put out a charitable rap album last year, made no money on it, tried to send a message to the kids about taking profanity out of their music, and because it came through Wal-Mart, I was targeted with a lawsuit."

Miller, describing the lawsuit as David vs. Goliath, also stated that he intends to file a countersuit against Pepe Jeans for interference with contractual relations. [Comment -- Given that Miller is reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, who exactly is the Goliath in this case?]

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