Universal Music Sues Investment Platform Over Alleged Republic Records Trademark Infringement

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Universal Music Group (UMG) is officially suing five-year-old investment platform OpenDeal (doing business as Republic) over its recent expansion into music, which allegedly infringes upon several trademarks associated with UMG’s famed Republic Records.

DMN obtained an exclusive copy of the straightforward action, which Universal Music Group just recently submitted to a New York federal court. According to the clear-cut filing, the Republic defendant formally announced (via a release) in early October that it would add a selection of music investments to its existing offerings.

Two days after this press release was published, UMG sent the investment-company defendant a cease-and-desist letter, the trademark-infringement suit relays, requesting that the entity “operate its new music-related services under a non-REPUBLIC name.” The newer Republic then “stated it was open to pursuing an amicable resolution,” the text proceeds, and the corresponding talks took place “throughout October.”

But the defendant earlier this month “ended settlement discussions,” per Universal Music, and moved forward with a November 4th launch of the music-investment service under the original name. Said launch specifically encompassed the sale of a stake in “Mona Lisa,” an upcoming track from Lil Pump (and featuring Soulja Boy).

Republic’s inaugural music-investment offering hit the $500,000 maximum raise “within two hours,” the plaintiff states, and a music release from KSHMR is expected to roll out on the platform next, higher-ups said in their aforementioned release.

The investment service’s “wanton effort to usurp” the UMG-owned label’s name and trademarks involves marketing “music-related services…towards the exact same consumers [as Republic Records]—namely, artists, record labels, managers, agents, and fans,” the Big Three label maintains.

Moreover, Republic’s own name and marks are allegedly being “used in connection with the full suite of goods and services that record labels typically offer, ranging anywhere from sound recordings, merchandise, event tickets, promotional services, and royalty payment services to literal investments in artists, their music, and their ventures,” the document indicates.

This alleged professional overlap has resulted in “harm” and “instances of confusion,” proceeds Universal Music – which, it bears mentioning, “does not object to” the investment platform’s “past or present use of the trade name or trademark REPUBLIC in connection with the foregoing investment services, as long as they do not overlap with the music industry.”

In one of these purported instances of confusion, a music-industry publication “mistakenly” classified articles about the Republic investment platform in the same category as Republic Records. And in another such instance, a Republic Records executive “had a meeting with a company called Nifty Labs to discuss opportunities in the blockchain/cryptocurrency space.” During the meeting, “a Nifty Labs executive” purportedly complimented the label behind Taylor Swift, Post Malone, and others on the “‘Lil Pump initiative.’”

Universal Music Group has asked that the defendant “be preliminarily and permanently enjoined from” using the Republic mark in “any music-related good or service,” besides paying damages for the alleged infringement.