Court Ends Ice Cube’s Copyright Dispute with Robinhood

According to a four-page opinion issued by Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler, the celebrity’s amended pleading failed to establish constitutional standing. Monday’s ruling marks the court’s second dismissal of the copyright infringement suit filed earlier this year by famous rapper, actor, entrepreneur, and social activist O’Shea Jackson, professionally known as Ice Cube.

The court briefly recounted the allegations prompting Ice Cube’s lawsuit, namely Robinhood’s allegedly unauthorized use of the celebrity’s image and catchphrase in a feature on “Robinhood Snacks,” a website where the defendant publishes newsletters on financial issues. Ice Cube alleged that by doing so, the company suggested his false endorsement of its products. The opinion reprinted the photo and caption allegedly used without Ice Cube’s permission, as shown below.

According to Judge Beeler, the amended complaint pointed to Congressional testimony and regulatory filings to illustrate that Robinhood Snacks is a commercial product that encourages users to sign up for Robinhood’s app, among other things. In addition, the complaint reportedly added “allegations about its demographics and the appeal of celebrities like Ice Cube (and its celebrity endorsers Jay-Z, Nas, and Snoop Dog) to support the point that using Ice Cube’s picture and phrase created consumer confusion and suggested Ice Cube’s endorsement of its products.”

The extra contentions, the ruling said, did not sufficiently plead an injury in fact, chiefly that the unauthorized usage suggested Ice Cube’s endorsement of Robinhood. “[T]he image and phrase are not an endorsement: they illustrate a point in the newsletter about a market correction in tech stocks,” the court wrote before disallowing leave to amend on grounds that the plaintiff had already been given a chance to cure the complaint’s deficiencies.

The plaintiff is represented by Freedman & Taitelman LLP and Robinhood by Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP.