The Hells Angels File Suit Against Young Jeezy Clothing Line
No strangers to protecting their logo, the Hells Angels are suing hip-hop artist Jay Wayne Jenkins’ a.k.a. “Young Jeezy” clothing line for infringing on their iconic “Death Head” logo. The design is not an exact copy, but Young Jeezy’s clothing line, 8732 Apparel, uses a logo and design that is uncannily similar. This is not the companies first brush with intellectual property issues. Initially, Young Jeezy called his brand “USDA,” but the federal government sent a cease and desist order, leading the company to change to its current name.
The notorious motorcycle club is concerned that 8732 Apparel’s jacket is substantially similar enough to cause confusion in the marketplace. The complaint alleges that the infringing jacket has been very profitable. On top of seeking an unspecified amount of damages, the Hells Angels also seek an injunction on the sale of all items that make use of the infringing logos.
There are several iterations of the Hell’s Angel’s Death Head logo, but primarily it is composed of a left facing skull with horns, and a biker’s helmet with a single golden wing extended to the right. More specific iterations, like those found on jackets, are composed of the previous symbol surrounded by two white, semicircular banners at the top and bottom. The top banner says “Hells Angels” in red text and the bottom banner lists the wearer’s club location or name. An additional small banner with the words “MC” (an abbreviation for “motorcycle club”) is located just below the symbol to the right.
8732 Apparel’s designed has many similarities. The symbol in the center of the jacket features a left facing head with two golden wings extending to the right. There are also two white, semicircular banners at the top and bottom of the symbol. The top banner reads “Street Bandits” in red text and the bottom reads “Eight Seven.” 8732 Apparel’s design, however, is conspicuously missing the smaller banner to the right of the symbol.
Interestingly the claim is only alleged on the grounds of market confusion, not dilution of the mark. While the designs indeed appear similar, it may be difficult to prove that a customer seeking to purchase genuine Hells Angels apparel would truly pick up Young Jeezy’s garb by mistake.
For a dilution claim, the Hells Angels would only need to prove that they possess a famous mark. Though not an easy feat to accomplish, the Hells Angels have existed for over sixty-five years and have achieved an iconic status within the United States (perhaps its most famous treatment is by Hunter S. Thompson in Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga). If a court were to agree that the club does own a famous mark, the Hells Angels would simply need to show that 8732 Apparel’s products harmed its unique status. Then again, the threat of a suit in-and-of-itself may be enough to force a settlement. 8732 Apparel has yet to respond.