In 1999, Kanas City rap artist Tech N9ne (real name is Aaron Dontez Yates) created a record label called Strange Music. In 2016, 22-year-old Elliot Grainge created a record label called Strainge Entertainment LLC. Today, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, the two record labels are in a bitter legal battle over claims of trademark infringement, brand dilution, and consumer confusion. The case was filed on October 3rd.
“The fact is, we have evidence that people are actually being confused as to the source and origin of music and the association of artists,” said Trent Webb, a partner at Shook Hardy & Bacon who is representing Strange Music in the lawsuit.
“As consumers are deceived or confused by Strainge Entertainment’s use of the (Strainge trademarks), Strange Music will likely see loss in sales and erosion of its market share,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit, which seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction against Strainge Entertainment’s continued use of the trademarks, does not seek specific figures for damage charges.
Tech N9ne has been active in the local music since 1991, joining acts including Black Mafia and Nnutthowze. O’Guin discovered Tech N9ne and came to believe he had been signed to poor record label deals in the 1990s and joined with the emerging artist to start Strange Music.Since then, Strange Music has generated $20 million in annual record and merchandise sales and has released more than 60 albums, according to its lawsuit against Strainge Entertainment.