NBA Finals: Trademark Law Favors Miami Heat as OKC’s Kevin Durant Sued over Durantula Nickname

NBA Finals: Trademark Law Favors Miami Heat as OKC’s Kevin Durant Sued over Durantula Nickname

It's bad enough that Kevin Durant has to guard Lebron James on the basketball court, but now, the Oklahoma City Thunder's superstar has to guard his Durantula nickname in a court of law. Yesterday, Mark Durante sued Kevin Durant and Nike for trademark infringement, claiming ownership of Durantula.

According to the complaint, Mark Durante is a Chicago-based musician with prior membership in multiple bands, including Public Enemy, The Aliens, The Next Big Thing, and The Slammin' Watusis.  Mr. Durante, in the late 1980's, adopted the name Durantula for his on-stage/performance persona. Mr. Durante claims a strong national presence and alleges his "DURANTULA name is widely known and highly regarded in the music and entertainment industry." He further claims:

Since 1993, Durante has used the moniker DURANTULA in connection with music, recordings, apparel, t-shirts, guitars, and related merchandise (the "Common Law Mark"). Throughout his 19 years of continuous use of the DURANTULA mark, Durante has recorded several albums, performed in numerous concerts, developed substantial goodwill and widespread recognition, and built his entire music career and persons around the name DURANTULA.

Mr. Durante states he received assurances that Kevin Durant did not use nor intend to use Durantula as a nickname. However, Mr. Durante points to several promotional items bearing Kevin Durant's Durantula nickname, including basketballs and photographs. He also underscores Nike's shoe campaign, which includes a cartoon superhero named Durantula, and Kevin Durant's "own use endorsement of the nickname on his Twitter page ...." The complaint goes on to state:

Durant's use of the Mark is as more than a nickname. It is becoming Defendant Durant - as it has already been for Plaintiff Durante for almost 20 years - his celebrity identity.

....

Defendants' use of Durante's Mark is calculated and likely to swamp the marketplace and cause reverse confusion amongst consumers. As such, the consumer public is likely to recognize Defendant Durant as DURANTULA. Plaintiff Durante's nearly 20 years of hard work and dedication to development of his celebrity persona would therefore be rendered useless.   

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