Hells Angels Sue Young Jeezy for Knocking Off Prized “Death Head” Trademark

Trademark InfringementOrange County – Notorious motorcycle club the Hells Angels filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in California federal court last week, accusing Rapper Young Jeezy and department store Dillard’s of using its logo without permission.  Specifically, the Hells Angels have taken issue with the logo featured in Jeezy’s clothing line, 8732 Apparel.  Since Dillard’s carries the line and has sold some of the contested merchandise, it was also named as a party to the lawsuit.

Upon first glance of the 8732 line, the similarities between the logo at issue and the famous biker gang’s  logo are apparent.  Both feature red writing on white patches in a circular arrangement on the back of a garment.  Displayed in the middle of both is a human head with wings.  While the Hells Angels imagery usually features “HELLS ANGELS” on top and the name of the geographic location of the particular club on the bottom, the 8732 patches say “STREET BANDITS” on top and “EIGHT SEVEN” on the bottom.  In its filing with the court, the Hells Angels claim that this is enough for consumers to be confused.

The “death head” logo has been a mainstay feature of the Hell’s Angels for decades and is prominently emblazoned on the backs of member’s biker jackets.  The leaders of the motorcycle club are known for carefully enforcing the organization’s rule that restricts the wearing of the symbol to members only.  It is because of this death head insignia and the colors featured in it, that the club is commonly known as “The Red and White.”

In its complaint, the Hells Angels demanded that 8732 stop producing the image on the clothing items immediately.  It also seeks unspecified damages.  The Atlanta-based rapper’s clothing line has its own website featuring the entire line of apparel, which includes shirts, jackets, pants, denim and accessories.  The item that appears to be at the center of the Hells Angels complaint, the “Bandits Vest,” currently sells for $88.  Other merchandise that features the allegedly infringing design includes a hat, T-shirt, and sweatshirt.

The Hells Angels have been on a complaint filing kick as of late, suing everyone from Toys R Us to MTV.  The organization, which is known for its tough attitude and brotherhood like mentality, has had no problem using its tough guy approach to protect its brand and image.  Given its demonstrated willingness to take legal action, it will come as no surprise if Jeezy backs off the Angels-esque emblem. Indeed, in one statement, the Angels’ attorney said, “Guys live and die for that patch. It’s not just a piece of clothing.”




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