NEW YORK, NY – A historic ruling in the case between JAY-Z and Iconix Brand Group over the Roc Nation logo has been made this past Wednesday (November 28) as a New York judge has granted the Roc Nation CEO’s request to halt the arbitration because of the lack of unbiased, black arbitrators presented to him.
“This is historic,” said JAY-Z’s attorney, Alex Spiro, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The two feuded in court over their $200 Million deal which was signed back in 2008 over the use of the famous logo by the Major League Baseball’s hats and other popular goods. This past October, Iconix made a play to move forward with proceedings at the American Arbitration Association under a settlement agreement prior to the lawsuits. However, Hov (real name, Shawn Carter) argued that Roc Nation’s agreement with Iconix Brand Group ignored New York’s public policy against discrimination.
“After a preliminary conference with the AAA, Mr. Carter and his companies sought to choose an arbitrator pursuant to the parties’ agreement, which required consultation of a list of more than 200 prospective neutrals,” wrote Spiro, in a petition over the arbitration, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. “When Mr. Carter began reviewing arbitrators on the AAA’s Search Platform, however, 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. After repeated requests to the AAA for diverse arbitrators with expertise in complex commercial law, the AAA was able to provide only three neutrals it identified as African-American: two men — one of whom was a partner at the law firm representing Iconix in this arbitration and thus had a glaringly obvious conflict of interest — and one woman.”
The document from Carter called this “shocking” and argued that it would “deprive black litigants like Mr. Carter and his companies of the equal protection of the laws, equal access to public accommodations, and mislead consumers into believing that they will receive a fair and impartial adjudication.”
“Today’s order is a victory for everyone,” said Spiro, regarding the landmark decision, saying it is an “advancement for civil rights” and it is “the first decision of its nature throughout the country”
After New York Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla ruled in JAY-Z and Roc Nation’s favor, a temporary restraining order was issued by the judge, putting the arbitration on ice until Dec. 11, which will be their next court date.
JAY-Z has been on the forefront when it comes to African American ownership and representation in the music business. Now, he is tackling this regarding the legal representation over the battle for his Roc Nation logo, as he now wants the case to be iced until he sees some black faces.
TMZ, who broke the initial story, reports that Hov’s lawyers are seeking a restraining order that would immediately stop the lawsuit Iconix Brand has filed against them. Court documents revealed that his lawyer, Alex Spiro of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has been given a deadline of November 30 to find an arbitrator, however, they have not been satisfied as all 200 of their selections are entirely white.
Iconix Brand claims that they have paid $204 Million for the Roc Nation logo’s merchandising rights and sued JAY-Z after the logo appeared on Major League Baseball gear without permission.
While both sides have agreed to settle the case in arbitration, rather than in an open court, JAY-Z and his legal team argue that the lack of diversity could seriously harm their odds of getting a fair shot in the case. And while they have received new list of 6 arbitrators of color, according to the documents, one appeared to be a conflict as interested as the individual is a partner at the firm that represents the plaintiff, Iconix.
Hov and his legal team want the restraining order to scan the remaining selection of arbitrators and to solicit new ones as well.