Jay-Z Sued for $7M Over Roc-A-Fella Logo

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on July 13, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Jay-Z lawsuit seeks $7 million in allegedly unpaid royalties over the iconic Roc-A-Fella Records logo.

It's apparently been a hard-knock life for New York City clothing designer Dwayne Walker, who claims he came up with the Roc-A-Fella design when the record label began making its mark in 1995, the New York Daily News reports.

But despite an alleged deal, the designer claims he's been short-changed by Jay-Z and the other fellas behind Roc-A-Fella.

The Jay-Z lawsuit alleges the rapper and his ex-partners at Roc-A-Fella agreed to pay Dwayne Walker $3,500 for his logo design, along with 2% royalties from all products that carry the logo, until 2015, the New York Post reports.

To date, those royalties amount to at least $7 million, the designer's lawsuit alleges.

Walker claims copyright infringement in his suit, filed in Manhattan Federal Court. "The logo has become universally recognized as an iconic symbol of Jay-Z, one of the most successful recording artists in the history of popular music," the suit states, according to the Daily News.

Without more details about the actual Rock-A-Fella/Jay-Z lawsuit, however, it's not clear how the copyright infringement claim might fare in court.

In general, an artistic work like a logo design is automatically protected by copyright. The creator of the work has the exclusive right to reproduce or redistribute the artwork, or even license it to others.

But if an artist designs a logo for a company as an independent contractor, the company may technically own the copyright. It depends on the parties' agreement, which in the Rock-A-Fella case has not been publicly disclosed.

Roc-A-Fella is now owned by Universal Music Group, but it's not clear how that plays into Dwayne Walker's Jay-Z lawsuit. Jay-Z's publicist did not respond to requests for comment by the Daily News.

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