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Iron Maiden hit back at e-commerce firm accusing them of “misappropriating” $200,000

By | Published on Friday 16 April 2021

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden have hit back at a lawsuit filed by US-based e-commerce platform Viral Style that accuses one of the metal band’s companies of grabbing $200,000 from its PayPal account without permission in an act that was, it alleged, “akin to a high-tech and sophisticated bank robbery”. Legal reps for the metal band argue that the litigation should not have been filed with a court in Florida, and that Viral Style has failed “to state a claim for which relief may be granted”.

Viral Style got itself caught up in legal action pursued by Iron Maiden through the courts in Illinois against a plethora of merch and clothing companies that were accused of infringing the band’s intellectual property, because two of the firms targeted by that litigation used its platform to sell their products.

However, it managed to get itself removed as a defendant in those lawsuits by successfully arguing that it was not actively involved in the production or distribution of any allegedly IP infringing merchandise, and as a passive platform had safe harbour protection from any liability for any IP infringement.

However, before being removed from Iron Maiden’s lawsuits, Viral Style had its PayPal account frozen. And then, later, after the band won a default judgement against the e-commerce outfit’s two clients – Beatee and 89artshirt – Iron Maiden and their lawyers at AMS Law allegedly “misappropriated $200,000.00 from Viral Style’s PayPal account”. That was based on the claim that Viral Style shared a PayPal account with its two clients, something it strongly denies.

In a lawsuit filed in February, Viral Style stated: “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”.

In their formal response, calling for the Viral Style lawsuit to be dismissed, Iron Maiden and AMS Law say that the e-commerce firm’s lawsuit is “riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions”. In particular, evidence submitted to the court by Viral Style contradicts its own allegations, they argue.

Giving one example, Maiden and their lawyers state: “Plaintiff alleges that ‘following Viral Style’s dismissal from the Illinois Lawsuit, Viral Style’s PayPal account was unfrozen. No holds were placed on the PayPal account either, as was previously threatened by [AMS]'”.

“Such allegation is directly contradicted by Exhibit E to the amended complaint”, they go on, “which is composed of multiple correspondence including emails expressly stating that the subject $200,000.00 is being held. Indeed, an email dated 1 Oct 2020, from [AMS to Viral Style’s attorney] states: ‘We just spoke with PayPal and authorised the release of the account with the caveat that they withhold $200,000, to protect our client’s interest'”.

Beyond the alleged “inconsistencies and contradictions”, Maiden also argue that the courts in Florida do not have jurisdiction over the dispute. The band and their companies are based in the UK, and while some directors and shareholders of Iron Maiden Holdings do own property in Florida, the company itself has no interests and operations in the state, beyond the band having played some shows there. Meanwhile AMS Law and the litigation that kick started this legal battle are both based in Illinois.

It now remains to be seen if the Florida court dismisses the case on either jurisdiction or other grounds.