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Robinhood Beats Ice Cube’s Suit Over Photo, ‘Check Yo Self’

June 16, 2021, 3:26 PM

Robinhood Markets Inc. avoided claims by rapper and actor Ice Cube that it used his likeness and work to hype products that tarnished his brand, after the Northern District of California found the complaint 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 claims under the Lanham Act because he didn’t show how Robinhood’s use of his identity “created the misapprehension that the plaintiff sponsored, endorsed, or is affiliated with Robinhood,” the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said Tuesday.

The complaint alleged that Robinhood and subsidiary Robinhood Financial LLC used Ice Cube’s image and paraphrased a line from his song “Check Yo Self” to illustrate an online article that it published about a market correction for tech stocks.

The line is “Check yo self before you wreck yo self,” which Robinhood paraphrased as “Correct yourself before you wreck yourself” to illustrate an online article it published about a market correction for tech stocks.

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 and Taitelman LLP represented Ice Cube.

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP represented Robinhood.

The case is Jackson v. Robinhood Markets Inc., N.D. Cal., No. 21-cv-02304, 6/15/21.

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; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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