Ice Cube’s Endorsement Lawsuit Against Robinhood Melts Away
Steven T. Lowe
On June 15th, 2021, a federal magistrate judge in the Northern District of California dismissed Ice Cube’s lawsuit against investment app “Robinhood.” O’Shea Jackson Sr., known professionally as “Ice Cube,” filed a lawsuit against Robinhood in March 2021 after Robinhood mentioned the rapper in a newsletter. In the newsletter, Robinhood used an image from the movie “Are We Done Yet?” with the caption “Correct yourself before you wreck yourself.” The line was a tongue-in-cheek reference to “check yo self before you wreck yo self,” a lyric from Ice Cube’s 1992 recording “Check Yo Self.” According to the lawsuit, Ice Cube claimed the popular investment platform had “stolen and diminished” his image to falsely imply that he endorsed a company he “wants nothing to do with.”
In the lawsuit, Ice Cube claimed that using his likeness and lyrics from his song violated both California state law and the federal Lanham Act by suggesting he was essentially endorsing Robinhood. However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler stated that the lawsuit wrongly characterized the newsletter as an advertisement. As a result, Judge Beeler ruled that merely referencing Ice Cube and his lyrics in an editorial newsletter did not give the impression to average consumers that he was endorsing the investment app.
Though Judge Beeler ruled against Ice Cube, she did give the actor/performing artist a chance to file an amended complaint within three weeks.
The brief ruling did not address more in-depth arguments from Robinhood that the post was a parody protected by the First Amendment.
Ice Cube, whose real name is O’Shea Jackson Sr., is represented by Sean M. Hardy of Freedman & Taitelman LLP.
Robinhood is represented by Mitchell J. Langberg of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP.
The case is O’Shea Jackson Sr. v. Robinhood Markets Inc., case number 3:21-cv-02304, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
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