Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Mysterious Music Label Loses Suit Over ’50/50′

(CN) - The 2011 film "50/50," starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, does not infringe on the trademark of a similarly named but much lower profile rap duo, the 7th Circuit ruled.

The Summit Entertainment film, which snagged more than $39 million at the box office, portrays Levitt as a 27-year-old radio journalist dealing with a cancer diagnosis that puts his chances at survival at 50-50.

A website for the purported rap duo Phifty-50 meanwhile attributes their name to a "50/50 chance to make it out da hood." It says the artists, Ray Goody and his brother Lue Chue, grew up on the east side of Jacksonville, Fla., "in the midst of crack houses and abandoned buildings."

In a 2011 federal complaint, Eastland Music Group and its manager, Raynarldo Whitty, claimed that Summit, Lionsgate Entertainment and Mandate Pictures violated its trademarks of the terms 50-50 or "phifty-50."

Eastland and Whitty purport to represent the rap duo Phifty-50, whose online presence apparently consists only of a 2003 album "In Due Time" and a T-shirt.

A federal judge dismissed the rappers' trademark claims, and the 7th Circuit affirmed Thursday.

"This complaint fails at the threshold: it does not allege that the use of '50/50' as a title has caused any confusion about the film's source - and any such allegation would be too implausible to support costly litigation," Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for a three-member panel.

"At oral argument, plaintiffs' counsel conceded that not a single person has ever contacted Eastland on its website to seek a copy of the film or complain about the film's content or quality."

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.