This is The Legal Beat, a weekly newsletter about music law from Billboard Pro, offering you a one-stop cheat sheet of big new cases, important rulings and all the fun stuff in between.
This week: Eminem moves to block two Real Housewives from registering a “Shady” trademark, Drake’s deposition drama continues, Damon Dash wins a verdict clearing him of sexual assault, and much more.
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THE BIG STORY: Eminem Says He’s (Legally) The Real “Slim Shady”
If your 2023 bingo card had Eminem picking a legal fight with a pair of Real Housewives, I have some great news for you.
The rapper’s lawyers filed a case at the U.S. trademark office last week aimed at blocking Gizelle Bryant and Robyn Dixon (stars of The Real Housewives of Potomac) from securing a federal trademark registration on “Reasonably Shady,” the name of their hit podcast.
As you probably guessed, Eminem’s attorneys were concerned about the similarity of the name to “Slim Shady” — a nickname the rapper has used for decades for a dark, violent alter ego. Given the overlap, they said consumers might be tricked into thinking Eminem was somehow involved with the podcast.
“Confusion is unavoidable,” the rapper’s lawyers wrote. “Applicant’s mark ‘Reasonably Shady’ simply looks and sounds like ‘Shady’ and suggests that it represents the services of Mathers.”
For a full breakdown of Eminem’s case — including all the actual legal documents and a response from Bryant and Dixon’s lawyer — go read our entire story here.
Other top stories this week…
DRAKE DEPOSITION SAGA CONTINUES – A Florida judge reversed himself and ruled that Drake wouldn’t need to sit for a deposition over the murder of XXXtentacion, seemingly swayed by the star’s arguments that he has no connection to the case. But the fight isn’t over quite yet, as defense attorneys are still pushing for a sit-down. Stay tuned…
CONDÉ SETTLES FAKE VOGUE SUIT – In other Drake developments, Condé Nast reached a settlement to end a lawsuit against the rapper and 21 Savage over their use of a fake Vogue magazine cover to promote their album Her Loss. The agreement included a permanent injunction barring any further use of the publisher’s trademarks as well as an undisclosed monetary payment.
DAME DASH TRIAL VERDICT – A jury mostly cleared Damon Dash in a case accusing the Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder of sexually assaulting a photographer. Following a four-day trial, the jurors found that Dash defamed Monique Bunn when he accused her of theft, but that he had not inappropriately touched her while she was sleeping at his house during a video project. Jurors awarded Bunn $30,000 in damages — far less than the $150 million she had sought.
R. KELLY CAN’T GET NEW TRIAL – A Chicago federal judge rejected R. Kelly’s bid to overturn his conviction last year on child pornography charges. Denying a motion for a new trial or acquittal, the judge ruled that prosecutors provided jurors with “enough evidence to sustain a guilty verdict on all six counts Kelly was convicted of.” Sentencing on those charges is set for Thursday (Feb. 23).
UTOPIA ACCUSED OF BAILING ON DEAL – Utopia Music was hit with a lawsuit claiming the buzzy music startup reneged on a $26.5 million deal to buy a U.S. music tech company called SourceAudio — and now owes more than $37 million because of the year-long delay. Switzerland-based Utopia had been on a buying spree over the past two years but announced in November that it would lay off 20% of its staff.
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