CHICAGO (CN) - Chicago guitarist Mark Durante claims in court that NBA All-Star Kevin Durant, Nike and Panini America violate his "Durantula" trademark on merchandise and in ads for Durant's Nike signature shoe.
Durante sued Durant, K Durant Enterprises, Nike, and Panini America in Federal Court.
"Mark Durante is a Chicago-based musician with a strong national presence," the complaint states. "Durante has played guitar in various capacities since 1968 and has been a fixture on the Chicago music scene for many years.
"During the 1980s, Durante boasted membership in numerous successful bands, including Public Enemy, The Aliens, The Next Big Thing, and The Slammin' Watusis.
"In the late 1980s, Durante adopted the name 'Durantula' for his on-stage and performance persona."
The complaint states that "since 1993, Durante has used the moniker Durantula in connection with music recordings, apparel, T-shirts, guitars and related merchandise. Throughout his 19 years of continuous use of the Durantula mark, Durante has recorded several albums, performed in numerous concerts, developed substantial goodwill and widespread recognition, and built his entire music career and persona around the name Durantula."
Durant, a three-time NBA All-Star, plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder, which lost to the Miami Heat Thursday night in the NBA Finals, one game to four.
Durante says in his complaint:"In 2010, in light of his growing popularity, Durant was receiving more media and fan attention, and was beginning to be marketed as Durantula."
Durante claims his attorney contacted Durant's agent on Sept. 15, 2010, and notified him that Durant was infringing on his "Durantula" mark.
He claims that the agent, Aaron Goodwin, CEO of Goodwin Sports Management, responded by email on Sept. 20, 2010: "'Kevin Durant [had] never authorized any company or media outlet the use of the term "Durantula."' Goodwin went on to state that, 'Kevin [did] not use the term as a nickname and [had] no intention of doing so,'" according to the complaint. (Brackets in complaint."
But Durante says: "Despite these assurances, defendants have prominently and without authorization used the Durantula name and trademark as the centerpiece of Durant's professional celebrity identity and in connection with the promotion of many materials."
He claims the infringements include "an autographed Durantula basketball for sale by co-defendant Panini America," sold through Durant's website; an autographed "Durantula vs. Mamba" signed photograph, also for sale by Panini through Durant's website; Nike's Epic Zoom KD III signature shoe ads; and "Nike's Air Alliance campaign involving a cartoon superhero named Durantula."
Durante says in the complaint: "Due to a licensing and promotional campaign marketing which has flooded the marketplace with references to Kevin Durant as Durantula, defendants have nearly consumed plaintiff Mark Durante's valuable, hard-earned identity which he has been cultivating and developing for nearly two decades. Durant's use of the Mark is more than a nickname. It is becoming for defendant Durant - as it has already been for plaintiff Durante for almost 20 years - his celebrity identity."
Durante seeks an injunction and punitive damages for trademark infringement, unfair competition and fraud.
He is represented by David Sudzus, with Drinker, Biddle & Reath.
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