Ice Cube’s ‘Check Yo Self’ Suit Against Robinhood Eighty-Sixed

Sept. 21, 2021, 3:26 PM

Robinhood Markets Inc. shook off, for good this time, claims by rapper and actor Ice Cube that the company used his likeness and work to hype products that tarnished his brand, after a federal magistrate found he didn’t “plausibly plead” that consumers would think he endorsed the products.

O’Shea Jackson Sr., better known as Ice Cube, doesn’t have standing to pursue the Lanham Act claims because the suit doesn’t sufficiently plead an injury, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said Monday.

Robinhood’s use of Ice Cube’s image and paraphrasing of his song lyric “Check yo self before you wreck yo self,” doesn’t suggest Ice Cube’s endorsement of Robinhood’s product, the court said.

Robinhood paraphrased the line as “Correct yourself before you wreck yourself,” which it placed below a photo of Ice Cube.

The graphic and caption illustrate Robinhood’s online article describing a market correction for tech stocks.

The court previously dismissed the claims but allowed Ice Cube an opportunity to file an amended complaint. But the new allegations don’t add facts that create any likelihood of consumer confusion, the court said.

Robinhood is a financial-services company that allows commission-free trades of stocks and exchange-traded funds on a mobile app.

It also operates a website called “Robinhood Snacks” that publishes short newsletters on financial issues.

On March 8, 2021, its newsletter titled “Why are tech stocks falling?” included an image from Ice Cube’s movie “Are We Done Yet?” and the challenged phrase.

The complaint alleged that the “blatant theft of Ice Cube’s image and likeness to endorse Robinhood’s dangerous products and services has resulted in substantial damage to Ice Cube.”

Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler issued the order.

Freedman & Taitelman LLP represented Ice Cube.

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP represented Robinhood.

The case is Jackson v. Robinhood Mkts. Inc., N.D. Cal., No. 21-cv-02304, 9/20/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Hayes in Washington at PHayes@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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