Eazy-E’s widow is going after the deceased rapper’s son (her stepson), claiming that he’s illegally using the trademarks Ruthless Records and N.W.A.
According to the suit, Tomica Woods-Wright’s company, Comptown Records, took over ownership of Eazy-E’s label Ruthless Records after the rapper’s death in 1995, and has “continuously used the trade names, trademarks, and service marks RUTHLESS, RUTHLESS RECORDS, and N.W.A. ”
However, the suit contends, last July Arnold E. White, an associate of Eazy-E’s son Eric Darnell Wright, formed a corporation in California called Ruthless Records, and both Wright and White filed a trademark application for Ruthless Records Inc., which was subsequently rejected because ” the mark is confusingly similar with the RUTHLESS and RUTHLESS RECORDS marks owned by Ruthless.”
Despite that rejection, the lawsuit contends, Wright and White “are operating an internet website at www.ruthlessrecordsinc.com accessible in California, and throughout the United States bearing the names and marks of Ruthless, RUTHLESS RECORDS, and NWA pursuant to which they advertise and promote musical artists and events.”
According to the suit, at the website Wright and White “create the impression that [their company] NWALLC is the ultimate owner of Ruthless’ trade names and marks. Defendants state: ‘Ruthless Records Inc. is an exclusive branding and marketing agency for NWA Entertainment and signed artists under NWA Entertainment.'”
Those assertions, the suit alleges, “are intentionally false and misleading.”
The suit also alleges that White and Wright have “sold merchandise including clothing and produced musical events using Ruthless’ names and marks RUTHLESS, RUTHLESS RECORDS, and N.W.A.”
“Defendants’ conduct complained of herein is malicious, fraudulent, deliberate, and/or willful,” the lawsuit reads.
Alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition and other counts, the suit seeks unspecified damages.
Eazy-E, real name Eric Wright, founded Ruthless Records in 1986 along with Dr. Dre and Jerry Heller in order to publish releases by Eazy-E and N.W.E. The label went on to release albums by numerous successful artists. Eazy-E died in 1995 from complications of AIDS.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.