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6ix9ine sued by Six9

By | Published on Friday 22 July 2022

Tekashi 6ix9ine

The rapper 6ix9ine has been sued for trademark infringement and unfair competition by the rapper Six9. Which is slightly confusing, but would be even more so if I was reading this story out loud. I guess we could use 6ix9ine’s original performer name of Tekashi69. I know Six9 would prefer it if we did.

Six9, aka Warren Hamilton, has been performing and releasing music under that name since 2007. Or at least that’s what he claims in his lawsuit. 6ix9ine, aka Daniel Hernandez, began putting out music as Tekashi69 in 2014, before later mainly using the alternative moniker 6ix9ine.

In his lawsuit, Hamilton claims that Hernandez changed his performer name as part of a rebrand that followed him pleading guilty to charges of ‘using a child in a sexual performance’, which related to videos he had made that featured a thirteen year old girl, which he later used in a music video.

“Upon information and belief, in 2015, Hernandez pled guilty to a crime involving the use of a child in a sexual performance”, the lawsuit states. “Upon information and belief, because of such conviction, Hernandez sometime thereafter decided to stop referring to himself as Tekashi69 and instead began rebranding himself as 6ix9ine”.

But that rebrand meant that Hernandez’s stage name was basically the same as that used by Hamilton, which obviously started to cause confusion, especially as Hernandez’s career really started to gain momentum following the release of 2017 track ‘Gummo’.

Says Hamilton’s lawsuit: “Defendants’ subsequent and adverse use of the 6ix9ine mark to sell Hernandez’s goods and services in the entertainment industry has caused confusion in the marketplace and injured and stifled Hamilton’s career in the entertainment industry”.

“Many rap and hip hop consumers have erroneously accused and criticised Hamilton of stealing Hamilton’s Six9 mark from Hernandez”, it adds. And “many rap and hip hop consumers have also mistakenly attended Hamilton’s live performance shows thinking that Hernandez was going to be performing”.

Which might almost seem like a positive outcome from the confusion for Hamilton, except, of course, a venue full of disappointed punters is no fun, plus “many music promoters and booking agents have refused to book live performance shows featuring Hamilton because his trademark Six9 is so confusingly similar or the same as defendants’ infringing 6ix9ine mark”.

The same-name dispute between Six9 and 6ix9ine seems to have ramped up somewhat because of Hernandez’s attempts to trademark his name. Those attempts initially failed because Hamilton had previously trademarked Six9 back in 2014, and the US trademark registry said having two musicians with such similar trademarks would be confusing.

However, last year Hamilton failed to provide some required paperwork to the US registry resulting in his trademark being cancelled. According to the lawsuit – despite Hamilton informing Hernandez’s lawyer that he was still using the Six9 mark and that he was seeking to get his formal trademark restored to the register – said lawyer used that cancellation to argue that there was no longer any concern regarding consumer confusion if the 6ix9ine trademark was registered.

That dispute at the trademark registry is seemingly ongoing, but in the meantime Hamilton would like the courts in New York to stop Hernandez from using the 6ix9ine name, and – of course – to award him some lovely damages.