Will Rapper 50 Cent Take The Rap in Trade Dress Lawsuit?

50 Cent

Iconic rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson has been transitioning his attention from the Candy Shop to the liquor stores lately.  Sire Spirits, i.e., Jackson’s liquor company named after his youngest son, is heading toward trial to defend itself against rival liquor brand E. Remy Martin & Co.

French distillery Remy Martin claims Sire produced and released bottles of cognac that infringe on its trade-dress and design patent rights of Remy’s Centaur de Diamant’s bottle shape from its XO line of cognac. The French distillery further asserts that Sire’s Branson Cognac bottle copies the shape of its distinctive bottles and label design in order to “unfairly capitalize” off of Remy’s reputation and good will.

50 Cent’s team has launched various defense tactics in attempt to have the case thrown out, including claiming the design was taken from canteens used by soldiers during the Civil War in the 1860s. 

Remy was able to sidestep a dismissal of the case by amending its suit to include a specific description of their Centaur de Diamant bottle: a "circular array of raised flat and angled quadrilateral facets" around a wheel-like body that converge at a "centrally located circular surface.”

Mirroring a trademark infringement case, most trade-dress cases hinge on likelihood of confusion. In the complaint, Remy cites to several social media comments on Jackson’s Instagram account referencing the similarities of the bottle designs.

The dispute is only escalating as 50 Cent continues to make moves with his Branson Cognac line, including but not limited to a new partnership with the Houston Rockets and a multi-year deal to have the drink showcased inside the Toyota Center.