Kanye Wes was once sued by motorbike stuntman Evel Knievel after dubbing himself ‘Evel Kanyevel’ in his ‘Touch The Sky’ video in 2006. Somehow we can’t ever see Mr West hopping on his motorbike to attempt a cross-gorge jump. Not yet anyway.
When the US Air Force used a re-recorded version of The White Stripes’ ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’ in an advert aired during the 2010 Super Bowl, they won the wrath of Jack and Meg, who said they took strong offence to the “implication that we licensed one of our songs to encourage recruitment during a war that we do not support”.
Miley Cyrus nearly had to dish out $4,000 (more than £2000) to every Asian and Pacific Islander living in Los Angeles County in 2009. A lawsuit was filed by Lucie J. Kim claiming a picture of the singer pulling back her eyelids had broken a dsicrimination law. It was dismissed by the judge.
In 2013, The Atlanta Journal reported Gucci Mane was suing both protegee Waka Flocka Flame and Waka’s mum for fraud, racketeering, theft and breach of contract. The rapper claims – amongst other things – the pair set up companies without his knowledge after taking control of label 1017 Records while he was in prison in 2009.
Insane Clown Posse launched legal action against the FBI in 2012 for classifying their fans – known as ‘Juggalos’ – as a gang. Famous for wearing face paint, the Juggalos meet once a year for the ‘Gathering Of The Juggalos’. ICP issued a statement saying: “The idea of calling the Juggalos and Juggalettes a “gang” is straight up bullshit. We are not a gang! We are a family.”
Rock’n’roll pioneer Chubby Checker – famous for 1958 hit ‘The Twist’ – got his knickers in a twist in 2013 when he discovered a penis-measuring app had been launched with the name ‘the Chubby Checker’. He claimed the app, which calculates girth using a man’s foot size, caused “irreparable damage and harm” to his name, which he says is now associated with “obscene sexual connotation and images”.
In 2007, Red Hot Chili Peppers sued Showtime after the TV network named a programme ‘Californication’ – a title matching the band’s 1999 album. “For some TV show to come along and steal our identity is not right,” frontman Anthony Kiedis said in a statement. Unfortunately, Chili Peppers never trademarked the name.
Burger King got into some serious beef with Slipknot in 2005 after using fictional rock band ‘Coq Roq’ in their chicken fry adverts. Slipknot threatened to sue the fast food chain for using a “look-alike, sound alike ‘band’ in order to influence the Slipknot generation to purchase chicken fries”.
When YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley found himself watching Kanye West propose to Kim Kardashian in 2013, he did what any sensible vlogging pioneer would do. He broke his agreement not to share video or images and posted footage to his new website MixBit. It promptly went viral and he promptly received a lawsuit from Yeezy.
Axl Rose lost a three year battle with Guitar Hero in 2013. The Guns’n’Roses frontman demanded $20 million in compensation from game-makers in 2010 claiming they’d breached the terms of his contract. He said he’d agreed to let them use ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ in ‘Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock’, but only if Slash didn’t appear in the game. Unfortunately, Slash ended up being its cover star.
Madonna almost faced trial when her nextdoor neighbour filed a lawsuit in 2009 complaining about “pounding noise and vibration” that had “interfered with the entertainment of guests”. Even though Madge tried to soundproof her flat, the neighbour was apparently subjected to “blaring music, stomping and shaking walls” for up to three hours a day. The case was settled in 2011.
Bob Marley’s wife Rita filed a lawsuit against the singer’s half-brother Richard Brooker in 2012, claiming he was using the reggae icon’s name to sell fish cakes and energy drinks. Brooker counter-sued, saying he’d been given permission to use the name, before the disagreement was eventually settled.
In 2009, Ozzy Osbourne took on former Black Sabbath bandmate Tony Iommi, filing a lawsuit that claimed Tony had illegally assumed sole ownership of the band’s name – and demanding that Ozzy got a 50% stake in the trademark back. The suit claimed Sabbath’s popularity significantly decreased when Ozzy left the band, and that his “signature lead vocals” were key to the band’s success.
Van Halen sued Nike in 2009 for using the iconic red, white and black striped colour scheme of his ‘Frankenstrat’ guitar on its ‘Dunk’ trainers. He demanded both monetary compensation and “the impoundment and destruction of all footwear”. Nike refuted claims it had breached copyright, saying their design wasn’t “substantially similar” to Van Halen’s.
The Village People’s policeman and lead singer sued the band’s current incarnation (they’re a bit like the Sugababes) $1million (£675,000) over image issues in 2009, claiming they’d used his image and voice without his consent. He then won a landmark legal case in 2012 which allowed him to reclaim royalties from the track ‘YMCA’ and other Village People hits he helped write.
In 2003 a group of Creed fans sued the band, claiming their performance in Illinois was so bad it cheated them out of a real gig. The suit alleges singer Scott Stapp was so “intoxicated and/or medicated that he was unable to sing the lyrics of a single Creed song”. The four audience members requested the $56.75 (£34.58) they each spent on tickets back as compensation.
When Frank Sinatra’s estate sued hot dog business ‘Franks Anatra’, they hit back with baffling explanations for their name. First, they claimed ‘Franks’ referred to “frankfurters” and Anatra was Italian for “duck” or “drake”. Then, that the name was inspired by fictional country the ‘People’s Republic Of Anatra’. Suffice to say – ‘Franks Anatra’ lost.
Josh Homme filed a lawsuit against his former Kyuss bandmates John Garcia and Brant Bjork (performing as Kyuss Lives!) in 2012. It accused them “trademark infringement, misrepresentation [and] false designation” He and other bandmate Scott Reeder alleged they’d tried to “steal the name” of the band.
Lady Gaga was apparently hit with a $380,000 (£243,000) lawsuit in 2011 from her former personal assistant Jennifer O’Neil. Jennifer claimed Gaga owed her payment for 7,168 hours of overtime and said the singer expected her to be at her service at “stadiums, private jets, fine hotel suites, yachts, ferries, trains and tour buses” from the “earliest waking hour”.
When Will.i.am started sending Pharrell Williams letters demanding he stopped using the phrase’I AM’ on his websites, Pharrell filed a lawsuit against Will.i.am saying it didn’t “infringe, dilute or unfairly compete” with the artist’s brand. Not only that, but he also said he was “disappointed that Will, a fellow artist, would file a case” and surely disappointment is the worst punishment of all?
MIA got the NFL all hot and bothered when she gave a middle finger to a TV camera at the Superbowl 2012. The organisation was so upset it sued her for $1.5 million (more than £900,000). Ever the diplomat, MIA tried diffuse the situation by posting a video of herself online thrusting her middle finger up again.