Rapper and actor O’Shea Jackson, better known by his stage name Ice Cube, lost his day in court (at least for the time being) on accusations of false endorsement against trading platform Robinhood.
His assertion that Robinhood’s use of his image and catchphrase indicated sponsorship was not plausible.
Robinhood Dodges Ice Cubes False Endorsement Claims
Robinhood has moved to have the complaint dismissed for lack of standing and has also moved to have the state law claims struck as protected speech under California’s Anti-SLAPP statute.
The court denied Ice Cube’s move to dismiss, stating that he had provided “sufficient pleading” of celebrity status. Robin Hood’s claim that Ice Cube lacked such status since he relied on his music in the 1980s and his movies in the 1990s was debunked.
With no famous status of his own, the court questioned why Robinhood would have utilised Ice Cube’s image and catchphrase in the first place. The court also concluded that Ice Cube effectively pled economic loss by alleging that he had exploited his famous status for financial gain.
The rapper and actor Ice Cube filed a lawsuit against the online trading platform Robinhood for the use of Ice Cube’s likeness and a paraphrased lyric from his track “Check yo self,” alleging false association, misappropriation of publicity rights, and unfair competition.
A magistrate judge ruled in June 2021 that such use did not give the impression that Ice Cube endorsed Robinhood, so the action was thrown out for lack of jurisdiction.
Ice Cube “does not convincingly establish that the use of his identify was endorsement, [thus] he does not have standing,” the court ruled, dismissing the case on behalf of Robinhood. However, the judge gave Ice Cube 21 days to file an amended complaint. There has been no new complaint submitted as of June 25, 2021.
Even though using celebrity photos in company newsletters and other public-facing communications may appear harmless at first, it actually presents some risks.
Here is the perfect time for businesses to check and double-check that they have the necessary permissions to utilise a celebrity’s likeness, voice, or name in promotional materials. As part of their marketing and social media strategy, businesses should also take care to draught proper endorsement standards.