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Bryan E. Kuhn
Counselor at Law, P.C.
Business & Employment Law Attorney

Jay-Z, arbitration group reach agreement over diversity issue

An objection over the racial makeup of the pool of potential arbitrators in the intellectual property lawsuit between Jay-Z and Iconix Brand Group appears to be resolved, according to recent court filings. This change could have an impact on Colorado entrepreneurs involved in the arbitration process going forward.

According to an attorney for Jay-Z, the rapper and entrepreneur is ready to proceed with arbitration in front of the American Arbitration Association after having some initial concerns over the diversity of the pool of potential arbitrators. These concerns led Jay-Z’s legal team to file for a temporary restraining order to halt the arbitration until the dispute could be resolved.

According to Jay-Z’s attorney, AAA acknowledged a lacking number of minority arbitrators including African Americans. The arbitration can now proceed due to AAA agreeing to open up the arbitrator selection process to include meaningful consideration of many African American arbitrators. AAA also agreed to remedial measures that would lead to a more racially diverse pool of arbitrators in future cases.

The underlying disagreement between Jay-Z and Iconix stems from a lawsuit filed by the brand group over the ‘Roc Nation” logo it purchased from Jay-Z previously. According to the lawsuit, Jay-Z licensed the use of the logo on Major League Baseball apparel despite no longer holding the rights to the image.

The spat over the makeup of the potential arbitrator pool is another example of how complex and protracted intellectual property litigation can be. The best way to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation is to work closely with an intellectual property attorney from the very beginning of the process. Legal counsel could be able to review potential licensing deals and address litigation risks ahead of time.

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