The Hells Angels settled a couple of trademark infringement lawsuits this month. The one you have or will soon hear about is probably the least interesting of the two.
Gossip site TMZ has been reporting for a day that the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation settled its suit against a couple of corporations called 8732 Apparel, LLC and Dillard’s, Inc. The apparel company is part of the entrepreneurial empire of a rapper variously known as Jeezy and Young Jeezy. Fritz Clapp, an attorney who has long been associated with the motorcycle club, filed the suit last October in Sacramento after 8732 Apparel began selling a denim vest with a close approximation of the Angels’ death head on the back. Jeezy’s company was also selling tee shirts and baseball caps that featured the Angels logo.
The suit demanded that Jeezy stop it, that he pay Clapp’s fees, turn over any profits and “pay exemplary damages for fraud, malice and gross negligence.”
The terms of the settlement are confidential. TMZ reported that a ”biker source,” presumably Clapp, said the amount of the settlement was “at least enough for some beers for the boys.”
TMZ also reported “Jeezy’s rep says the rapper is happy with the settlement.”
Meanwhile the more interesting, if largely unreported, settlement was in Australia where wearing Hells Angels colors – or Mongols, Rebels, Bandidos or Comanchero colors in a bar – can get you six months in jail.
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation of Australia successively sued the Gazal Corporation because it’s subsidiary, a company called Trade Secret, was selling tee-shirts that featured an image of a Hells Angel in colors and other tee-shirts that were meant to represent the colors of a fictitious club called the Journeymen. The Journeymen shirt also mimicked the Angels’ death head logo.
The settlement included a written apology by Gazal Corporation Director Richard Gazal who acknowledged that the Angels “considered these images offensive.” He also said, “Trade Secret would like to publicly acknowledge the Hells Angels’ intellectual property rights in its trade marks and the copyright in the images which are contained in those trade marks…. In selling and manufacturing the two T-shirt designs, Trade Secret did not intend to infringe the Hells Angels’ intellectual property rights or diminish its reputation and expresses regret for any offence taken by the Hells Angels as a result of that conduct.”
What seems ironic about the Australian suit is that for a few months in 2013 it was illegal for an Angel to wear his club’s colors but it was simultaneously legal for trendy hipsters to wear an approximation of them.
Defending The Patch
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, through the corporation that guards the club’s insignia, has been filing these suits for most of the last decade.
This is the second time the Australian Angels have sued Gazal. In 2009 the two corporations reached a settlement over a line of “Heaven’s Angels” tee-shirts.
The club also sued British fashion designer Alexander McQueen in 2010; MTV star Rob Dyrdek and his cousin Chris “Drama” Pfaff in 2012; and Toys R Us and yo-yo maker Yomega in 2012. Terms of none of the settlements has ever been disclosed. However Yomega continued to sell the yo-yos the club found offensive online after that settlement was reached.