By Jon Blistein
A federal judge dismissed a $7 million lawsuit against Jay Z and his former label partners that accused them of breach of contract and copyright infringement over the logo for Roc-A-Fella Records, Reuters reports.
Dwayne Walker filed the suit in 2012. Walker, a clothing designer, claimed he created the artwork depicting a vinyl record that served as the basis for the Roc-A-Fella logo (the official version features an “R” and a champagne bottle superimposed over an LP). Jay Z, co-founder Damon Dash, Roc-A-Fella and its parent company, Universal Music Group, denied Walker’s claims, saying the logo was designed by an in-house art director.
Walker also claimed that he and Dash signed a contract that entitled him to royalties from the logo, but U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter ruled there was little evidence to prove the document existed. Along with Walker, two other people purported to have seen the contract, but Judge Carter ruled their testimony was too weak. He wrote in his decision, “This leaves only plaintiff’s own self-serving testimony that he drafted the contract, that he and Dash signed it, and that he lost track of it in 1998.”
Judge Carter also noted that Walker waited too long to file a copyright claim, taking five years, instead of three, to sue Roc-A-Fella after learning he was allegedly owed royalties.
Representatives for Jay Z and Walker were not immediately available for comment.
Walker plans to appeal the decision, his lawyer Gregory Berry told Reuters. “Walker made the logo in 1995. Then in 2013, in response to this suit – never before – the defendants find a guy who is willing to claim now that HE made the logo … Sound like a factual question for trial? We agree.”