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Iron Maiden accused of “misappropriating” $200,000 from e-commerce firm’s PayPal account

By | Published on Thursday 25 February 2021

Iron Maiden

A US-based e-commerce platform called Viral Style has sued Iron Maiden accusing one of the metal band’s companies of grabbing $200,000 from its PayPal account without permission in an act that is “akin to a high-tech and sophisticated bank robbery”.

The money was seized after Viral Style got caught up in legal action against a plethora of merch and clothing companies that were accused of infringing Iron Maiden’s intellectual property.

It seems that Viral Style was named as a defendant in a big old IP lawsuit filed by Iron Maiden with the courts in Illinois last year because two of its clients – Beatee and 89artshirt – were accused of selling products that exploited the band’s copyright and trademarks.

However, the e-commerce firm argues in its lawsuit, it was not actively involved in the sale or distribution of those products, and while its site may have facilitated the other companies’ transactions, Viral Style has safe harbour protection from liability for any infringement its clients were involved in.

The law firm that led on the legal action on behalf of Iron Maiden Holdings – Illinois-based AMS Law – seemingly agreed with Viral Style regarding both its passive involvement in the operations of Beatee and 89artshirt and its safe harbour protection regarding any liability for those companies’ alleged infringement. As a result Viral Style was removed as a defendant from the Iron Maiden lawsuit. However, the problems didn’t end even once that had happened.

The e-commerce outfit only actually became aware that it was even listed as a defendant on the band’s litigation when, via a court order, its PayPal account was frozen last September. Once it had been removed from the lawsuit the PayPal account was unfrozen. But, Viral Style says, AMS Law nevertheless argued that it shared its PayPal account with Beatee and 89artshirt. Viral Style strongly denies that’s the case, but it’s that claim by Iron Maiden’s legal reps that is behind the dispute.

The lawsuit against Beatee, 89artshirt and various other companies accused of infringing Iron Maiden’s IP continued, with most defendants not formally responding to the legal action. In December, the band were then awarded a default judgement in their favour against all the defendants that had failed to respond, including Beatee and 89artshirt.

Having won that default judgement, and seemingly still insisting that Beatee and 89artshirt shared a PayPal account with Viral Style, Iron Maiden Holdings allegedly seized $200,000 from said account. Or, in Viral Style’s words, Iron Maiden – assisted by AMS Law – “improperly misappropriated $200,000.00 from Viral Style’s PayPal account”.

Its lawsuit goes on: “Iron Maiden and AMS Law misappropriated these funds with full knowledge that Viral Style: (a) was dismissed from the Illinois lawsuit, (b) was only named as a defendant in the Illinois lawsuit by mistake, (c) was not bound by the final judgment order, (d) was an online service provider e-commerce platform and/or marketplace that did not infringe on Iron Maiden’s intellectual property, and (e) did not share its PayPal account with Beatee or 89artshirt”.

Viral Style says that its repeated demands that the seized money be returned have been ignored by Iron Maiden Holdings and AMS Law. As a result it is suing both the band’s company and its lawyers for fraud, tortious interference and civil conspiracy, seeking repayment of the $200,000 and damages.

Neither Iron Maiden Holdings nor AMS Law have as yet responded to the lawsuit.