Posted on November 29, 2018

Jay-Z Says Panel Is ‘Too White’ to Be Fair in Trademark Case

Rebecca Rosenberg and Julia Marsh, Page Six, November 28, 2018

Jay-Z’s {snip} is suing to stop the American Arbitration Association from judging a trademark case, saying the panel is too lily-white to be fair.

“The AAA’s lack of African-American arbitrators came as a surprise to [Carter], in part because of AAA’s advertising touting its diversity,” the rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter, says in the new Manhattan Supreme Court suit.

Jay-Z filed the case against the clothing company Iconix to delay an impending arbitration over trademark infringement claims related to his line of Roc Nation baseball caps.

Iconix bought Jay-Z’s apparel brand Rocawear in 2007. Iconix first sued the mogul in Manhattan federal court last year, claiming a hat deal with Major League Baseball interfered with their licensing agreement. {snip}


But when Jay-Z went to review members of the AAA, “he was confronted with a stark reality: he could not identify a single African-American arbitrator on the ‘Large and Complex Cases’ roster, composed of hundreds of arbitrators, that had the background and experience to preside over the arbitration,” the suit says.

The association was eventually able to identify three black arbitrators, but one of them couldn’t serve due to a conflict of interest.

Beyond black arbitrators, the national association only has one Asian-American, one South Asian and one Latino representative, according to court papers. The AAA says its membership is “composed of 24 percent women and minorities.”

But Jay-Z argues that minority business owners should be able to select from a group that “reflects the diverse population.”

Without that diversity, black litigants like Jay-Z are deprived of “the equal protection of the laws,” he says in the filing. He adds the “token number of African-Americans” violates public policy.