Many people will have heard of Clarence Clemons, the late saxophone player in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. For fans of Springsteen, Clemons, known as ‘The Big Man’ was a vital and legendary part of the band. Clemons passed away suddenly in 2011 at the age of 69 when complications during hand surgery led to him suffering a stroke. One of his children, Nick Clemons, has now been sued for use of his ‘Big Man’ moniker to sell cannabis-related products.
Prior to his death, Clemons put all of his assets into a trust for the benefit of his children with Nick Clemons being one of the beneficiaries of that trust. Despite being a beneficiary of the trust, however, Nick Clemons had no right to use the ‘Big Man’ name with the trust itself retaining full rights over the assets until the youngest son turns 25 in 2023.
The trustees claim that Nick Clemons along with his brother Charles (who has not been sued) began breaching the terms of the trust as early as 2017 when they established a company called Big Man West to sell a beer called Big Man Brew. In 2020 they then expanded to sell cannabis products called ‘Big Man Blazed Bakes Goods’ and ignored repeated requests from the trustees to stop.
The trust eventually sued Nick and the company Big Man West in April 2021 and obtained an order that they stop their activities. Nick has however ignored that order and has now been held in contempt of court and will now face a fine of $250 a day for every day that they fail to comply with the order.
This story demonstrates the importance of ensuring you have the rights in a name that you think you have. As a beneficiary of the trust, Nick Clemons presumably thought he could undertake these activities. It also demonstrates the considerations that go into brand protection. It appears that the trust did not have particular issues with the activities in relation to beer but was motivated to bring action when the activities expanded into cannabis products.
If this story throws up any issues for you please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniels Law on 0191 281 4000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org: EU/International, Legal News, News, Trade Marks