Rapper “Mastermind” Says Rozay Stole His Hip-Hop Name
A relatively unknown rapper from California has won an appeal of his case accusing “Mastermind” Rick Ross of knowingly stealing his rap name.
The independent hip-hop artist and producer, who was born Raul Caiz, sued Ross in 2015, as well as Def Jam Records and Universal Music Group for trademark infringement, unjust enrichment and misappropriation over his claim that Ross co-opted his rap name, “Mastermind.”
Caiz stated he records and performs under the name “Mastermind” which he said he trademarked. The artist explained he has used the trademark for his nearly 20 years career in hip-hop.
The musician claimed that under his trademarked rap name he has had songs played on the radio, one of his tracks was featured in a movie, and released tracks and recorded his music using the name “Mastermind.”
Caiz said around 2013, Ross announced his sixth album would be entitled “Mastermind,” and shortly after the rapper began calling himself “Mastermind” in interviews, performances and other people started following suit and calling Ross by the new nickname.
Caiz said that by Rick Ross calling himself “Mastermind,” it caused confusion in the marketplace.
According to court papers, the artist sent a cease and desist letter to Rick Ross in February 2015, demanding the rapper stop using his trademark without authorization. However, his lawyer never got a response from Ross’ team and continued infringing on the trademark by releasing his album and launching the “Mastermind” tour.
However, Ross countersued and argued that Caiz’s trademark wasn’t valid, and his use of “Mastermind” was fair use of the word.
The musician’s suit demanded more than $2 million in damages, an injunction ordering Ross to cease using the mark “Mastermind” for any purpose and other damages for illegally using his trademark.
A judge initially sided with Ross, ruling that Caiz’s trademark of “Mastermind” was not a “valid, protectable trademark” and ordered the trademark canceled.
But Caiz appealed, and last week a panel of appellate judges issued their opinion, reversed the judge’s decision and awarded Caiz the $2 million. The judges said Ross’ argument that the dictionary definition of “mastermind” includes a musician, and said there was no need for him to use the word to describe himself.
It was unclear Monday when or if Caiz would see his $2 million judgment.
Ross has yet to respond on his loss in court.