Can a Rap Duo Use TM Law to Block Kevin Hart Film?

News that Universal Studios has bought the rights for screenplay “Run the Jewels” written by Alex Blagg and Neel Shah sparked a debate around the trademarked title of a popular rap duo also named “Run the Jewels.” Fans of the music group have taken to social media to voice their disapproval of the movie’s title.

Fenwick litigation partner Eric Ball spoke with Law360 about the potential legal ramifications arising from use of the trademarked title, noting that the rap duo faces significant challenges if they decide to bring suit against Universal.

Producer Kevin Hart and Universal may make the case that titling the movie with the same name as the rap group will not yield much consumer confusion as they are not truly using the name in a trademarked sense, Ball told Law360.

“A single movie title normally does not act as a trademark identifying the source of a product,” Ball said. “This is why the Trademark Office’s rules prohibit trademark registrations for the title of a single movie.”

“I do not expect that Public Enemy is going to go after Johnny Depp’s movie 'Public Enemies,'” Ball said. “And Biggie Smalls was safe from Tom Hanks’ crew that produced the movie 'Big.'”

The full article is available through the Law360 website​ (subscription required).