Dallas Music Producers Claim Ludacris Stole Their Business Name, Throw 'Bows in Court
It was in 2001 that Christopher Bridges, a.k.a. Ludacris, released "Move Bitch," a song still considered his masterpiece. (The inimitable chorus: "Move bitch, get out the way/Get out the way bitch/Get out the way.") It was the third single from the album Word of Mouf, and it helped propel the corn-rowed Atlanta rapper into the headphones of white high school kids in suburban Dallas.
It was due in part to the success of the single that Ludacris decided to trademark the name of his record label, Disturbing Tha Peace, a trademark that is still active.
He was a bit late, however, at least according to Demitri Brown and Donna Evans-Brown, a couple of Dallas music producers. Brown had been using the name "Disturb the Peace" in his business since 1988 and had filed for a trademark on the phrase in 2000, two years before Ludacris filed for his.
But it wasn't until March of last year that Brown and Evans-Brown discovered that Ludacris had stolen their name, according to a lawsuit they filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Dallas. The fact that their claim to "Disturb the Peace" was cancelled in 2004 was proof that the rapper had "falsely claimed" to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that they had abandoned their claim.
So Brown and Evans-Brown want the court to order Ludacris to immediately stop using the Disturbing Tha Peace name and fork over cash for the unauthorized use of their trademark. Exactly how much they don't say, but "Bridges is capable of establishing the amount in controversy."
The standard trademark cases, per this overview from Harvard Law, is the likelihood that use of a trademarked name will cause confusion about where a product is coming from or who is endorsing it. A quick Google search for Brown and "Disturb the Peace" yields little save for a lawsuit against the FBI requesting the release of documents under the Freedom of Information Act and a Texas corporation called Legally Incorporated Convicts, whereas the same search for Ludacris yields ... well, quite a bit more.
Still: suing Ludacris can't hurt, can it?