Designer Can Pursue Lawsuit Against Jay-Z
MANHATTAN (CN) - A Bronx fashion designer can pursue his copyright case against Jay-Z, seeking royalties on a logo that he claims he designed for Roc-a-Fella Records and its product lines, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
Dwayne Walker Jr. sued Jay-Z (Shawn Carter), his former manager Damon Dash, his label Roc-a-Fella Records, its co-founder Kareem Burke, Universal Music Group and Island Def Jam Music Group two years ago, seeking $7 million in royalties.
In 1995, Walker agreed to design and license a logo to Roc-A-Fella for $3,500 cash and "2 percent of all revenues made from the sale of items ... bearing the logo for ten years after the first year of use, payable at the end of that period," according to his complaint.
Jay-Z was not happy about that deal, Walter said in a 22-page second amended complaint.
According to the complaint, Jay Z asked him: ""Yo, D[wayne], why you treating us like a white company?"
Walker said he replied: "White company? I'm getting 2 percent. I was supposed to get 5 percent!"
His relationship with Dash went south after they put that agreement in writing, Walker said.
The complaint states that Walker argued with Dash for not giving him a space in a new Roc-A-Fella office.
"How you ask me all the way down here and don't say, 'Hey, here's your spot?'" Walker asked, according to his complaint.
"I don't like the way you talking to me," Dash replied, according to the complaint. "I seen someone get slapped for less."
In 2010, Walker applied for and got his copyright registration, and he filed his lawsuit two years later.
Jay-Z and his co-defendants tried to dismiss the lawsuit and, failing that, strike the "redundant, immaterial and impertinent" portions of the complaint.
U.S. District Judge Andrew L. Carter Jr. on Wednesday refused to let Jay-Z and his co-defendants toss the lawsuit.
Nothing in the complaint met the standard to strike "redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter," the judge wrote.
Walker's attorney Gregory Berry said that the decision shows "the wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine."
"Money can take you far, but when you agree to pay someone for their work, then reap the benefits of their labor, you will have to pay them for it eventually," Berry told Courthouse News in an email. "Of course, the case is not over yet, but today's ruling is a huge step forward."
Berry said that four witnesses have stepped forward to verify his client's claims.
Jay-Z's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.