Jay-Z Argues Lack Of Racial Diversity Should Halt Arbitration Over Roc Trademark

Hov is pushing back in the ongoing dispute with Iconix.

(AllHipHop News) The contractual fight between Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter and the Iconix Brand Group has taken an interesting turn. Carter's legal team is arguing that a lack of diversity within the American Arbitration Association violates New York's public policy against racial discrimination.

"This blatant failure of the AAA to ensure a diverse slate of arbitrators for complex commercial cases is particularly shocking given the prevalence of mandatory arbitration provisions in commercial contracts across nearly all industries, which undoubtedly include minority owned and operated businesses," reads the petition filed in New York Supreme Court.

The legal doc also states Jay-Z reviewed arbitrators on the AAA’s Search Platform, and he could not find any African-American arbitrators on the 'Large and Complex Cases' roster. Supposedly, repeated requests for the AAA to identify diverse arbitrators with expertise in complex commercial law produced only a "token number" of neutrals identified as African-American.

In 2017, Iconix filed a $204 million lawsuit in federal court, claiming the company's exclusive trademark rights for Jay-Z's Rocawear were violated when Major League Baseball created merchandise with the Roc Nation iconography. The legendary Hip Hop artist counter-sued on the basis that Roc Nation had no association with the sale of Rocawear to Iconix.

The dispute was submitted to arbitration by Iconix on October 1. A previous 2015 settlement clause supposedly gave Carter the ability to choose an arbitrator from a required list of more than 200 people who specialize in "Large and Complex Cases."

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan litigators also assert, "The AAA's arbitration procedures, and specifically its roster of neutrals for large and complex cases in New York, deprive black litigants like Mr. Carter and his companies of the equal protection of the laws, equal access to public accommodations, and mislead consumers into believing that they would receive a fair and impartial adjudication."

Shawn Carter, S. Carter Enterprises, Marcy Media Holdings, and Marcy Media are seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Iconix Brand Group and Icon DE Holdings. The petitioners want a preliminary and permanent stay of an ongoing arbitration before the American Arbitration Association.