Australia Markets open in 8 hrs 1 min

Billionaire hip-hop mogul Jay-Z is suing an Aussie gift retailer for trademark infringement

Emma Koehn, SMH

Billionaire rapper Jay-Z is taking legal action against a little known Australian books and clothing retailer over claims it has been profiting from using his name and the hook in his famed track '99 Problems' in a "flagrant, glaring" way.

In documents filed in Victoria's Federal Court last Friday Shawn Carter, who is known professionally as Jay-Z, argues books and fashion seller The Little Homie has knowingly infringed on his trademarks and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct through the sale of products including the book "AB to Jay-Z".

The Little Homie is an online gift retailer which sells a variety of children's books and t-shirts inspired by popular culture.

In 2017 it raised $8000 on Kickstarter to produce a picture book called "AB to Jay-Z", which teaches the alphabet by referring to a number of well-known music artists.

Mr Carter claims the books traded on use of his likeness and brand as well as infringing on copyright of lyrics in his hit single 99 Problems.

The song covers a range of topics including class in America and references a story in which Mr Carter is pulled over by police.

The song includes the hook, "If you having girl problems I feel bad for you son / I got ninety nine problems but a bitch ain't one".

The back of the AB to Jay-Z book includes a quote that reads "“If you’re having alphabet problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but my ABCs ain’t one”.

In a statement of claim, Mr Carter's legal representives King & Wood Mallesons outline that Mr Carter requested the company cease selling the products in March 2018 and despite correspondence between the two parties the situation had not been resolved.

The case also names the sole director of The Little Homie, Jessica Chiha, personally as a respondent in the case.

Mr Carter's lawyers said he would not know the full extent of the situation and appropriate damages until a full discovery was completed.

The business continued to "deliberately and knowingly" use his likeness and lyrics in a "flagrant, glaring" way they say.

The use of the Jay-Z name, image and wording was "calculated to injure, has injured and is continuing to injure the reputation and goodwill of Mr Carter," the claim said.

The Little Homie is currently advertising a Black Friday sale on social media and lists AB to Jay-Z and a colouring book of the same name for $17.50. Its other titles include First 50 Words with 50 Cent.

Mr Carter's Australian lawyers referred the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to Mr Carter's US legal representatives, who have been contacted for comment.

The Little Homie did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Tuesday. The retailer is yet to file a defence.

The matter is listed for a case management hearing on December 6 before Justice Middleton.

This article originally appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. Read the original here.