Court tells Ice Cube to amend complaint against Robinhood
Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler of the California Northern District Court has dashed the claims brought by O’Shea Jackson, known professionally as Ice Cube, against online trading app Robinhood. Ice Cube, however, is allowed to amend his complaint.
As FX News Group has reported, Ice Cube sued Robinhood after it used his image and a paraphrase of a line from his song “Check Yo Self” to illustrate an online article that it published about a market correction for tech stocks. The line is “Check yo self before you wreck yo self,” which Robinhood paraphrased as “Correct yourself before you wreck yourself.” “Check yo self” is Ice Cube’s “catchphrase.”
He claims that by using his image and catchphrase, Robinhood (1) created the false and deceptive commercial impression that Ice Cube is associated with or endorses Robinhood’s services, in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1)(A), (2) misappropriated his likeness without his consent, in violation of Cal. Civ. Code § 3344(a) and California common law, and (3) engaged in unfair competition, in violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200.
On June 15, 2021, the court dismissed the complaint for lack of standing because the plaintiff did not plausibly plead that Robinhood’s use of his identity suggested his endorsement of Robinhood’s products.
The Judge explained that Ice Cube predicates Robinhood’s liability for all claims on the ground that Robinhood’s use of his identity suggested his endorsement of Robinhood’s products. Robinhood used Ice Cube’s picture and paraphrase of a line from his song to illustrate an article about market corrections.
According to the Judge, that illustration does not suggest that the plaintiff endorsed Robinhood (even if Robinhood uses celebrity endorsements (including Nas and Jay-Z) to promote its actual products, as the plaintiff alleges).
The plaintiff characterizes the newsletter as an advertisement, not a newsletter. But he attaches the newsletter, which is demonstrably not an advertisement, according to the Court.
The Court ruled that the plaintiff does not have statutory standing under the Lanham Act because he did not allege how Robinhood’s use of his identity created the misapprehension that the plaintiff sponsored, endorsed, or is affiliated with Robinhood.
Ice Cube must file any amended complaint within 21 days and attach a blackline of the changes.
(Featured image is the problematic pic used by Robinhood in its newsletter. Image source: California Northern District Court).