Eminem’s Latest Battle Is a Trademark Dispute Over ‘Slim Shady’
When it comes to well-known rappers, few have garnered as much attention as Eminem. Since the release of The Slim Shady LP in 1999, the man known as Marshall Mathers has received nearly constant media attention for his lyrics, antics and rap battles. In his latest battle, however, he’s facing a trademark dispute over the term ‘Slim Shady.’
The rapper’s trademark attorney filed a trademark opposition on his behalf on November 15, 2021. The opposition involves a trademark application filed in February for ‘Slim Shady Politics.’ Marshall Mathers has never been one to shy away from politics, but in this case, he seems ready to stop misuse of his trademark in its tracks.
The Real Slim Shady Trademark Dispute
On February 12, 2021, Melissa More and Alan Hoffer filed a trademark application to assert rights over the term ‘Slim Shady Politics’ for a political related website. The opposition was then filed on behalf of Marshall Mathers — who many people know better by his stage name, Slim Shady.
The notice of opposition claims that registration of the term ‘Slim Shady Politics’ would create trademark dilution and a likelihood of confusion. Applicants Hoffer and More state in their original application that the trademark would be used on a website that features “news and information in the field of national and international politics.” Their alleged date of first use goes back to June 2013.
As stated in the opposition filing, though, there’s no issue as to priority. Eminem’s major label debut album in 1999 featured the name ‘Slim Shady.’ The rapper has registered several trademarks protecting the name since that time, and it’s been used in live music performances, sound recordings and on countless pieces of apparel.
The real question comes over whether he can prevent someone from asserting rights over ‘Slim Shady Politics.”
Slim Shady and Trademark Dilution
For a likelihood of confusion to exist, trademarks must typically be within the same industry or for related goods and services. This is why brands like Delta Faucets and Delta Airlines can simultaneously exist — no one is going to mistake the two for each other. While Eminem is vocal about his political stances, his brand isn’t political in nature. Could this create a problem with the opposition?
In reality, both trademark dilution and a likelihood of confusion could still exist. The Slim Shady brand is well-known — with the singer even being a prominent focus of congressional hearings. Due to the artist’s simultaneous acclaim and notoriety, there’s no doubt that his trademarks have accrued significant goodwill and recognition among the public.
If the chance exists that consumers might believe ‘Slim Shady Politics’ is run or endorsed by Marshall Mathers, an issue of confusion certainly exists. There could also be a problem if the political website’s name — which appears to improperly already feature the registered trademark symbol — takes away from the uniqueness of Eminem’s brand.
So while these two brands may not be in related industries, it’s very possible that infringement may be occurring.
What Happens Now?
As to the trademark opposition, the applicants have until Christmas day to file a response. If they fail to do so, the TTAB will find in favor of Marshall Mathers.
If the applicants decide to push back against the opposition, though, the may continue until May 2023. We’ll just have to wait and see if they have the motivation to take on the “Rap God.”