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Run-DMC Sues Wal-Mart, Amazon for $50 Million

NEW YORK — Run-DMC filed a $50 million lawsuit in New York accusing Wal-Mart, Amazon, Jet and other retailers of selling products that traded on the rap group's name without permission.

A founder of the group and owner of the Run-DMC brand, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, was listed as the plaintiff in the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in the Southern District of New York.

Image: oseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, and the late Jason Mizell "Jam Master Jay."
Run DMC pose at the Grammy Awards in 1988. From left, Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, and the late Jason Mizell. MARK LENNIHAN / AP, file

The complaint said the defendants are "advertising, selling, manufacturing, promoting and distributing multiple products" in the group's trademarked name. The products include glasses, hats, T-shirts, patches, wallets and other items.

The lawsuit alleged that the retailers have improperly profited, diluted and harmed the Run-DMC brand, which it said has generated more than $100 million in revenue since its inception in the 1980s.

It called the Run-DMC brand "extremely valuable," and said it is the subject of several licensing agreements, including to endorse Adidas sneakers from Adidas

The lawsuit alleges defendants are confusing consumers into believing that Run-DMC endorsed their products and are trading on the goodwill associated with the name, in violation of federal trademark and New York unfair competition laws.

Run-DMC was founded in New York in 1981 by McDaniels, Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" and Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell, who was fatally shot in his Queens recording studio in 2002. McDaniels and Simmons later announced that the group had officially disbanded.

The group's hits include "King of Rock, "It's Tricky," and "Can You Rock It Like This."

In 2009, Run-DMC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, becoming only the second rap act to be awarded that honor.

Amazon and Wal-Mart, which also owns Jet, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.