January 29, 2021
As reported by The Fashion Law, Burberry is suing Marvel Yarbrough, an American rapper known as "Burberry Jesus", for infringing and diluting its trademarked name and iconic tartan design.
In the Complaint, Burberry notes that the rapper’s social media is filled with images of him posing with Burberry-branded merchandise and his cars, which are wrapped in vinyl bearing Burberry’s copyrighted prints. Burberry characterizes Yarbrough’s actions as a “clear attempt to trade off of the fame and goodwill cultivated by Burberry”.
Although Burberry is best known for its clothing and accessories, it is also involved in the music industry. In 2010, the company established BURBERRY ACOUSTIC, a digital platform for emerging artists. Burberry selects artists that reflect the brand’s reputation and films performances that are featured on its website and YouTube channel. Burberry relies on its “passion” for the promotion of music to support its argument that the unauthorized use of its intellectual property misleads consumers to believe that there is an association between Burberry and Yarbrough. The company claims the perceived association has caused actual harm and is likely to continue to cause harm to Burberry by diluting and weakening the unique and distinctive significance and quality of the Burberry Trademarks.
Burberry began its efforts to prevent Yarbrough from infringing its intellectual property in December 2019. While the rapper initially informed Burberry that he would comply with its requests, Burberry later learned that Yarbrough applied to change his legal name to Burberry Jesus only ten days after the initial cease-and-desist letter was sent.
Illinois granted the name change based on an allegedly fraudulent application. As such, Burberry seeks a declaration that Yarbrough’s name change is invalid and requests permanent injunctive relief prohibiting the rapper from using Burberry’s intellectual property.
Author: Meghan King