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Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs sues owner of his clothing brand (twice)

By | Published on Monday 15 February 2021


Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs has sued clothing firm Global Brands Group, accusing it of infringing a trademark owned by his political organisation Citizen Change. It is his second lawsuit of the month against the company, which acquired his Sean John brand in 2016.

In the latest legal action, Combs says that GBG Sean John LLC – the division of Global Brands that now operates the Sean John clothing line – has been using the slogan ‘Vote Or Die’ and is now attempting to trademark it. He says that this will lead to consumer confusion and he wants a New York judge to block Global Brands from using the phrase.

Initially, the case seems fairly simple. Citizen Change trademarked ‘Vote Or Die’ in 2010, having first launched a campaign of the same name in 2004. Now Global Brands is attempting to trademark the phrase for clothing and badges. However, Citizen Change’s trademark was cancelled by US Patent And Trademark Office in 2016, after the organisation failed to file renewal documentation.

Combs maintains that, despite that cancellation, Citizen Change never abandoned the label and still has a right to use it. And to that end, in January, Citizen Change formally asked the trademark office to block Global Brands’ application.

“Rather than develop a new trademark for defendant’s politically-inspired merchandising efforts, defendant has engaged in bald opportunism by applying to register the mark ‘Vote Or Die’, after the USPTO administratively cancelled the registration originally obtained by Citizen Change”, says the new lawsuit, according to Law360. “But that cancellation did not terminate the rights to the ‘Vote Or Die’ mark that are owned by plaintiffs”.

This is the second time Combs has sued Global Brands Group this month, having claimed in another lawsuit that the company has been overstating his current connection with the Sean John brand.

According to WWD, Combs is suing the company for $25 million, accusing it of “false endorsement, misappropriation of likeness and violating his publicity rights”.

This all relates to the launch of a women’s clothing line with UK fashion retailer Missguided Unlimited last year. Promotional material for the line “misstates Mr Combs’ connection to the GBG collection”, says the lawsuit.

The specific gripe is that a press release included a quote from Combs, which he did not write, approve or even see before it was sent out to journalists.

“Defendants jointly authored and approved the quote falsely attributed to Mr Combs, and never provided the statement to Mr Combs for his review and/or approval”, claims the lawsuit. “Because Mr Combs’ name, image, likeness and persona are an extremely valuable asset, he zealously guards his publicity rights and carefully evaluates whether, and to what extent, those rights may be exploited by others”.

Global Brands Group has not commented on either case.