Convicted drug dealer “Freeway” Rick is appealing a July decision by Judge Percy Anderson of California’s Ninth District, which dismissed his case against platinum rapper Rick Ross. In the original suit Ross claimed the Florida rapper stole his name and identity in a commercial conspiracy led by former Def Jam President Jay-Z. Ross filed his suit under the Lanham Act, which protects against trademark infringement.
The case was ultimately dismissed because Freeway Rick couldn’t legitimately show he had trademark rights to his name. Judge Anderson has federal jurisdiction and Freeway Rick apparently filed a state-based claim. That distinction still allows Ross to file an amended lawsuit in state court as opposed to appealing his previous suit for $10 million.
UPDATE (04/11/11): Ross believes that California’s laws are geared more towards celebrity culture and may be more favorable in protecting trademarks and licenses. In an exclusive interview with BET.com’s Rondell Conway, Ross said his intention was always to start at the federal level and work his way down to the individual state courts. The law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips will represent Freeway Rick on a contingency basis. That practice is usually reserved for high-risk cases, and it typically allows for the client to pay a firm an agreed-upon share of the recovery. There is no charge to the client if the case is unsuccessful, so if Ross is still seeking $10 million in damages, both parties could see sizable profits from a win.
“We’re both teaching two different messages,” Freeway Ross told Conway. “He’s teaching my old life: sell drugs, disrespect women, all the things that really have our country in shambles. I’m teaching uplifting values, education, literacy. He’s teaching illiteracy.”