Gucci Mane: Getting Away with Dilution?

February 2, 2018

Radric Davis—better known as Gucci Mane—is one busy guy. In addition to putting out new music in 2017, he launched a line of shoes with Reebok® and his own clothing line. With his recent expansion into fashion, why isn’t he the subject of trademark dilution suit by fashion giant, Gucci?
Generally, trademark dilution can be thought of as chiseling away a famous brand value or distinctiveness. Trademark dilution frequently involves the unauthorized use of another’s famous mark to promote a noncompeting good. The Lanham Act provides federal protection for trademark infringement arising out of two types of dilution: dilution by blurring and dilution by tarnishment. Dilution by blurring occurs when a consumer’s association with the first user’s mark is “blurred” because of the subsequent user’s use of the same or similar mark. Dilution by tarnishment occurs when the first user’s mark is “tarnished” by an association with the subsequent user’s negative image or poor quality. To bring a dilution claim, four elements must be proven: that the plaintiff owns a famous mark that is distinctive, that the defendant is using a mark that allegedly dilutes the plaintiff’s mark, that the similarity between the marks gives rise to an association, and that the association is likely to impair the distinctiveness of the plaintiff’s mark.

From the outside, it seems like Gucci would have a strong case against Gucci Mane. So, why haven’t they sued?

Perhaps Gucci doesn’t mind the association. Gucci Mane’s style aligns with Gucci’s overall look, and Gucci’s design campaign has been popularized through popular musicians. In Gucci’s 2018 cruise show, the brand used multiple musicians as models while pushing the brand’s creative cosmos by selecting music artists to walk the runway. Rappers like 2 Chainz and A$AP Rocky have been turning their attention to Gucci when they are looking to be extra boujee. Even indie artists have turned to the brand for fashion inspiration; recently, Børns’ music video look has been getting a lot of attention from fashion influencers.
An internet search of “Gucci Mane shoes” or “Gucci Mane clothing line” indicates that Radric Davis has been careful to separate his stage name from his brands. His line with Reebok is branded Guwop, and his clothing line is call Delantic. In fact, it appears that Gucci Mane is taking precautions to keep a lawsuit with Gucci off his bucket list. However, Gucci Mane’s name is attached to the branding campaigns through third party websites and product reviews.
Gucci is not oblivious to the value of their intellectual property. The brand has recently sued Forever 21, Guess, and Alibaba for trademark infringement. Perhaps Gucci is not turning a blind eye to Gucci Mane’s effect on their brand—maybe the fashion giant doesn’t see Gucci Mane as a threat. Or, maybe, the brand does not want the bad press that could come with a lawsuit against an artist in an industry that supports their brand and the brand’s popularity.