If you thought you couldn’t unite “Storage Wars,” “hip hop,” and “the law” on the same blog post, you’d be wrong.
Over this past Thanksgiving weekend, I caught a “Storage Wars” marathon on on A&E. Storage Wars is a reality-type TV series that follows four teams of professional buyers as they scour repossessed storage units for worthy treasures. Apparently in California, when rent isn’t paid on a storage locker, the contents are sold as a unit in auction. The buyers are all some kind of consignment resellers, so they try to outbid one another to make the most bang for their buck.
These units don’t just store knickknacks. People are storing – and clearly forgetting – items worth thousands and thousands of dollars.
Storage Wars fans might be familiar with Dave Hester, nicknamed The Mogul, on the show. He owns an auction house and is well financed on these auctions. In fact, he is frequently the antagonist, driving up the cost of the lockers he knows the others are interested in, just because he can. “Yuuup!” – is his signature auction bid.
“Yuuup!,” however, is also claimed as R&B crooner Trey Songz’ catchphrase. Trey’s lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to Hester, claiming infringing usage of the phrase during the auction segments. In return, Hester filed a lawsuit against Songz in Manhattan Federal Court, arguing a distinct difference in their usage of the term, “Yuuup!”
According to The New York Post, Hester argues that Songz’ catchphrase resembles an “animal-like or non-human squeal” whereas Hester’s phrase is meant to convey the meaning of “yes.” Songz has also never trademarked his call.
If you have a catchphrase or trademark for your own small business, be sure to make an appointment with an attorney to get information on how to protect it.
As for Hester, do I think he’s got a viable claim?