Trademark rights in interdigitization

Praying Hands

Thou, Rock

Nick Daly drops me a note to the effect that one Jay-Z, gazillionaire rhyming scatologist, has been sued by a professional perspirer and leaping stage goon called Diamond Dallas Page — ach! my kingdom for a stage name! — for the former’s “Roc-A-Fella Hand Gesture,” also known as the “Diamond Cutter” hand gesture. Evidently Mr. Z uses the former, Mr. Page the latter of these nicknames for the clever manipulation of the human carpal, metacarpal and phalange bones in a distinctive diamond-shaped pattern in association with the services provided by the respective performers.

The Roc

Now, Roc-a-Fella is a record company specializing in rhythmic spoken-word obscenity-laced performance art which generates (1) some light, if you will, allowing one to peer into the dimmer recesses of the heart of urban America’s cultural darkness profundity, plus (2) much heat as regards the controversial word choice typically employed by its practitioners as well as the ribald subject matter of the works, in addition to (3) immense dump trucks full of cash.

You may perhaps, in a merry mood, “Rock a fellow” — “rock” him, in this sense meaning to entertain him or absorb his attentions by use of contemporary upbeat rock and roll music or its derivaties — or as we northeastern urbanites might say, you might rock “a fella”; hence the name of the company. And it is hard not to suspect an allusion, based both on ironic association considering the countercultural nature of the works as well as with vast hordes of currency, to the name Rockefeller, the billionaire dynasty that, as is well known, controls everything, and whose name is arguably a “trademark” for immense wealth and power.  (UPDATE:  Jay-Z, in contrast, evidently cannot quite as readily as the Old Man could rock every fella as he might like to.)

The Rockefeller

Roc-a-Fella Records does not control quite as much of everything, yet it is very influential in its own precincts. Still as between the Rockefellers and Diamond Dallas Page, only one has seen fit to claim trademark infringement. We note that Jay Z is evidently associated with the Def Jam label as well as the Roc-a-Fella organization at this time. It is not clear why an allusion to deafness is appropriate for a company associated with sound recordings, unless one actually listens to them (“jamming” is the making of music by informal or improvisational arrangement in “hep” talk); but we digress.

The issues in the case — the absurd, goofy case which will move Mr. Page, the comic mock-wrestler, from one-one-thousandth as rich and famous as Mr. Z, the rhyming, gesticulating would-be urban troubadour, to three-one-thousandths of Mr. Z — are painstakingly set out here (via Marty Mr. S.), where you can also compare the disputed hand gestures. While we cannot agree with Justin Pats’s conclusion that Mr. Z will be “found not guilty” in this civil case, LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION agrees with his reasoning and suggests that this litigation is either a publicity stunt, a present for Mr. Page’s lawyers (admittedly this is the least likely, for although much-deserved, such gifts from clients bearing retainers are all too rare in our experience) or perhaps a tax writeoff following a good year of full-nelsons and body slams, and that, at the end of the day, the entertaining Mr. Z will dispose of the claims against him like so much dirt off his shoulder.

UPDATE:  Keepin’ it real — settled.


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Author:Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

12 Responses to “Trademark rights in interdigitization”

  1. May 28, 2007 at 1:03 am #

    thanks for linkin pmr in your work 🙂 much love


  2. July 24, 2007 at 10:41 pm #

    Now, Roc-a-Fella is a record company specializing in rhythmic spoken-word obscenity-laced performance art

    Ron! Has a court determined that the performance art fails the Miller Test? If not, may I respectfully suggest a correction?

    Now, Roc-a-Fella is a record company specializing in rhythmic spoken-word profanity-laced performance art

    (Sorry, I’m a real nerd/stickler about that distinction)


  3. July 26, 2007 at 12:42 am #

    Well, first of all, I have no use for the Miller test, much less what little is left of it. But yes, it is the law. On the other hand, while no court has ruled in “my favor” in this, Marc, neither has one ruled otherwise necessarily. So I am entitled to my opinion!


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