Darryl "DMC" McDaniels of Run-DMC is suing Amazon and Walmart on behalf of Run-DMC, accusing the mega-retailers of selling knockoff merchandise bearing the legendary Hollis rap trio's logo without permission.
McDaniels filed suit against the companies in New York federal court on Thursday, saying that they have been colluding with several other companies, also named in the suit, to jack the Run-DMC logo and slap it on T-shirts, patches, and wallets. In other instances, the suit claims, the companies advertise items such as fedoras and square glasses as "Run-DMC styled."
Run-DMC is demanding $50 million in damages, noting that a licensing agreement with Adidas alone ran $1.6 million. The lawsuit also names Jet.com, which Walmart bought for $3.3 billion in September.
The suit states that Run-DMC has brought in $100 million in all since its founding in 1981.
Amazon and other internet retail platforms have become a hub for counterfeit sales, particularly, according to a Slate report, since Amazon management decided in 2014 to allow Chinese manufacturers to sell directly on the site. In November, Amazon sued two vendors alleging they were counterfeiters, and in December, the maker of Snuggies and other As Seen On TV products sued Amazon alleging it allowed an "astronomical" number of knockoffs to be sold.
Run-DMC may have an uphill battle ahead, as similar suits have previously ended with judges deciding that online retailers merely provide a platform and, so long as they make good-faith efforts to block fraudulent vendors when they are identified, they are not responsible for the actions of third-party vendors.
We've reached out to Amazon and Walmart for comment and have not heard back.