Run-DMC Sues Amazon and Wal-Mart Over In Trademark Dispute

Hip-hop pioneers and moguls Run-DMC have filed a $50 million lawsuit in New York, on Thursday, which accuses several retailers of selling products under the group’s trademarked name. More specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Wal-Mart, Amazon, and Jet are “advertising, selling, manufacturing, promoting, and distributing multiple products” under the Run-DMC trademark.

According to founding member Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, by doing this, the vendors “confuse the public as to the source of origin and endorsement of its products.” Obviously, then, he refers to the fact that what Walmart, Amazon, and Jet are selling are knockoff Run-DMC glasses, hats, patches, wallets, and shirts, among other merchandise.

The lawsuit further alleges that these retailers have “improperly profited, diluted, and harmed” the brand; a brand which has generated more than $100 million in revenue since its initial launch following the band’s rise to success during the 1980s. While it is certainly one thing to unlawfully profit from someone else’s trademark, the lawsuit also alleges that [at least] these three retailers—which includes 20 John Does—have knowingly “harmed Run-DMC’s ability to utilize, market, promote, and sell products with its registered trademark.”

Run-DMC, of course, is extremely valuable, particularly because of its $1.6 million with Adidas; a deal which began after the group began wearing iconic Adidas as part of their image. The band was originally founded in 1981, in Hollis, Queens, New York, by Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell. McDaniels and Simmons announced the official disbanding of the group, however, in 2002, after Mizell was fatally shot in his Queens recording studio.

The band is known for hits like “It’s Tricky,” “King of Rock,” and “Can You Rock it Like This,” and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 (only the second rap act to have accomplished this).

Now, it is important that Wal-Mart owns the online marketplace known simply as Jet. It is yet another way for the massive discount chain to move its highly affordable—but not always the best/most reliable—merchandise. At the same time, Amazon had filed its very first-ever lawsuit, just last month, in a specific plight to hinder the selling of counterfeit merchandise through its long-respected online interface.