Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Trademark dispute brewing over deceased rapper's slogan

New Jersey residents may be surprised to learn that the once notorious Crips street gang is taking steps to rebrand itself and escape its violent past. The Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle was a member of the Crips until he was gunned down outside a clothing store he owned in March. Hussle denounced gun violence in his music and worked tirelessly to provide opportunities to marginalized young men. In a step widely seen as an effort to associate themselves more closely with their esteemed former member, the Crips LLC filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on May 16 to trademark the late rapper's "The Marathon Continues" slogan.

The Crips say that they plan to use the slogan to promote youth sport programs and charity events. The gang also hopes the slogan will help them to book concerts, hold boxing tournaments, and launch a reality television series. However, their plans suffered a setback on May 28 when Hussle's older brother Samiel Asghedom also filed an application to trademark the slogan. Asghedom, who also wants to be appointed the administrator of late brother's estate, says that he too wants to use the slogan to promote charities and help others. Legal observers say that the case could prove difficult for the USPTO as neither party coined the slogan.

Attorneys with experience in trademark law may look to see how the design or phrase involved is being used when presented with a set of facts like this. Individuals or companies applying for a trademark must provide the USPTO with what is known as a Basis for Filing. This is generally done by providing examples of the word, phrase, design, or symbol being used on posters, websites, corporate branding, or other promotional materials.

Source: Vibe, "Nipsey Hussle's Brother Competing With Crips To Trademark 'The Marathon Continues"", Staff report, June 5, 2019

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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