Rapper Ice Cube is more than ready to tax Robinhood, for allegedly stealing his image and likeness.
Ice Cube is seeking millions from the stock trading app, for allegedly stealing his catchphrase “Check Yo Self, Before You Wreck Yo Self,” and used his image in a promotional email sent to the company’s user-base.
The beef between Ice Cube and Robinhood started on March 8, 2021, when the company sent out an email titled “Why are tech stock falling?”
The email featured a superimposed image of Cube taken from the movie “Are We There Yet?” along with the quote: a line from his hit song “Check Yo Self” which read: “Correct yourself before you wreck yourself.”
Robinhood’s attempted humor failed miserably and resulted in a lawsuit from Ice Cube, which he filed on March 31st.
Robinhood replied to Ice Cube’s lawsuit and asked a judge to throw the entire case out, claiming Cube had no legal legs to stand on. First, they argued that Ice Cube didn’t own the copyright for the image taken from “Are We Done Yet?”
Robinhood swears Ice Cube is simply clout chasing, since the phrase “Check Yo Self, Before You Wreck Yo Self” has been co-opted many times over the years and should be considered in the public domain widespread use in sayings like: “Text Yo’self Beefo You Wreck Yo’self” and “Czech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself.”
However, Cube’s high-powered lawyer Michael A. Taitelman just fired back at Robinhood’s attempt to dismiss the rapper’s complaint and it looks like the legal battle is going to be nasty.
[Robinhood] now seeks to evade responsibility for their misconduct by filing a blunderbuss motion that misses the mark,” Taitelman snapped. [Robinhood’s use of [Ice Cube’s] image and likeness is pure commercialization, executed without the consent of [Ice Cube] and [Robinhood’s efforts to hide behind the Constitution are in vain.”
Ice Cube says his name is a registered trademark, and Robinhood’s use of his image and likeness resulted in false advertising, which is not protected by the constitution.
“[Ice Cube] has alleged that [Robinhood] have misappropriated the business and goodwill value of [Ice Cube’s] celebrity persona and, as a result of [Robinhood’s] actions, he has “suffered and will continue to suffer substantial monetary damage to his business in the form of diversion of trade, loss of profits, and a dilution in the value of his rights and reputation,” Taitelman said.
Michael A. Taitelman also shot back against Robinhood’s argument that the phrase Check Yo Self, Before You Wreck Yo Self” should be considered part of the public domain, since Robinhood used the slogan to promote a commercial product, Robinhood Snacks.
Taitelman pointed to an eight-point factor test courts have used in the past, to determine whether there is a likelihood of confusion.
1. The level of recognition that the plaintiff has among the segment of society for whom the defendant’s product is intended.
2. The relatedness of the fame or success of the plaintiff to the defendant’s product.
3. The similarity of the likeness used by the defendant to the actual plaintiff.
4. Evidence of actual confusion.
5. Marketing channels used.
6. Likely degree of purchaser care.
7. Defendant’s intent on selecting the plaintiff.
8. Likelihood of expansion of the product lines.
“[Ice Cube] specifically alleges that his signature catchphrase has become an indelible part of his public persona, and that the public has come to understand that if Plaintiff uses his signature catchphrase, he “means business” and is serious,” Taitelman argued. “The Advertisement is ‘commercial speech,’ which is rarely, if ever, protected by the First Amendment…protection for noncommercial publication of matters in the public interest is associated with ‘freedom of the press.”
Taitelman also dismissed Robinhood’s assertion that Ice Cube didn’t own the copyright to the photo used in the newsletter, stating: “The basis of [Ice Cube’s] right of publicity claims under California law is the contention that [Robinhood] misappropriated [Ice Cube’s] persona for [Robinhood’s own commercial gain.”
Ice Cube says executives at Robinhood are simply out for revenge against the rap star’s business partner Jeff Kwatinetz, who has a separate class-action lawsuit against Robinhood.
On June 3rd, Judge Laurel Beeler will decide as to whether or not Ice Cube’s lawsuit will proceed or be tossed.