A federal judge has again sided with financial services company Robinhood in a lawsuit brought by by rapper and entrepreneur Ice Cube over the use of his image, and a variation of his catch phrase, “check yo self,” in a newsletter.
“Robinhood’s use of Ice Cube’s image and phrase does not suggest Ice Cube’s endorsement of Robinhood’s product,” U.S. District Court Magistrate Laurel Beeler in San Francisco said Monday in an opinion dismissing the case.
Beeler dismissed a prior version of Ice Cube's lawsuit in June, but allowed him to reformulate his claims and bring them again. Monday's ruling was with prejudice, meaning that the decision is final, unless an appeals court intervenes.
The legal battle dates to March, Ice Cube (whose real name is O'Shea Jackson), alleged in a lawsuit that Robinhood wrongly used a photo of him and the phrase “Correct yourself before you wreck yourself” in a March 8 Robinhood Snacks newsletter article titled “Why are tech stocks failing?”
That newsletter was published when Robinhood was under scrutiny for halting trading on GameStop.
After Beeler dismissed the original complaint, Ice Cube revised his lawsuit by alleging that Robinhood Snacks should itself be considered a “commercial” product.
He argued in an amended complaint filed in July that one purpose of the newsletter is that it “entices and introduces potential customers to sign up for the Robinhood trading app.”
“The commercial nature of 'Robinhood Snacks' is clear,” the amended complaint alleged. “Not only does it serve to lure in and prepare unsuspecting consumers to sign up for the Robinhood trading app, but 'Robinhood Snacks” constitutes a financial product and service in and of itself,” Ice Cube alleged.
He specifically argued that the March 8 article “Why are tech stocks failing?” should be considered an ad for Robinhood, and that the unauthorized use of his photo and catchphrase wrongly suggested he had endorsed the company.
Beeler rejected that argument.
"Ice Cube is a celebrity," she wrote. "If the unauthorized use of his image suggested his endorsement of Robinhood, then he would suffer injury in fact. But the image and phrase are not an endorsement: they illustrate a point in the newsletter about a market correction in tech stocks."