LL COOL J FILES TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT SUIT OVER “ROCK THE BELLS”
Steven T. Lowe
On November 27, 2018, LL Cool J filed a federal trademark infringement suit against a California concert promoter accusing the company of using the name of one of LL Cool J’s most famous songs, “Rock the Bells,” without his permission.
LL Cool J, whose real name is James Todd Smith (“Smith”), has sued Guerilla Union Inc. for its unauthorized use of the name “Rock the Bells” in their web domains and social media accounts. Smith tried to settle the matter outside of court but he claims he received no response. After a June 12, 2018, letter seeking access to the domain and social media accounts went unanswered, Smith sent two unanswered follow-up letters, before filing the lawsuit. “To date, Defendant has not responded to or confirmed receipt of any of Plaintiff’s letters,” the complaint states.
Guerilla Union put on a series of hip-hop music festivals named “Rock the Bells” from 2004 until 2013. During that time, Guerilla Union registered trademarks for “Rock the Bells,” allegedly falsely implying a connection with LL Cool J and his music.
Smith’s suit alleges violations of federal trademark laws, including those outlawing “cyberpiracy,” which includes registering without proper authorization domain names that are “identical or confusingly similar to” famous marks. He is also alleging violations of California state law and common law. Smith is also asking the court to force Guerilla Union to give him the rights to the “Rock the Bells” website and social media accounts, as well as any Rock the Bells-branded merchandise in the concert promoter’s possession, and of course to stop Guerilla Union from using Rock the Bells in any of its future activities.
Smith is represented by Jill M. Pietrini and Paul A. Bost of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.
Counsel information for Guerilla Union was not immediately available.
The case is James Todd Smith v. Guerilla Union Inc., case number 2:18-cv-09902, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
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