The estate of late Mobb Deep rapper Prodigy, surviving member Havoc, and the streetwear brand Supreme have been sued in New York District Court for trademark infringement and unfair competition, Billboard reports and documents viewed by Pitchfork confirm. A complaint filed by plaintiff Bush Baby Zamagate—the label that owns the intellectual property of the New York hardcore band Sick of It All—accuses the rap group and clothing brand of copying the band’s dragon logo on T-shirts and hats for a Summer 2023 capsule collection.
In the suit, Bush Baby Zamagate says Supreme and Mobb Deep are guilty of “willful infringement and unfair competition” from “improper and illegal use of a nearly identical logo mark to Plaintiff’s inherently distinctive, incontestable, and famous logo.” They are asking the court to prevent the defendants from using the logo “or any other mark or marks confusingly similar thereto,” a full accounting of revenue generated using the logo, the delivery of any products with the logo for destruction and cease of online use, compensatory damages, and attorney’s fees. Summons were issued to defendants last week; they have 21 days to respond to the suit. Pitchfork has reached out to representatives of Bush Baby Zamagate, Supreme, and Havoc for comment.
Supreme announced its Mobb Deep collaboration in June, featuring T-shirts screen-printed with a dragon logo and “SUPREME” in all caps on the front, with “Drop a Gem on ‘Em” printed on the back, and a baseball cap with the same dragon logo featured prominently on the front. A news post on Hypebeast.com cited in the suit reported that the logo had been dubbed the “Alleyway Crew” dragon, and was “borrowed from hardcore punk band Sick of It All.” “Alleyway Crew Tapes” is referenced on the J-card for Sick of it All’s self-titled 1986 cassette, which features a drawing of Calvin from Bill Watterson’s comic strip Calvin & Hobbes.
The suit claims Sick of It All has used the dragon logo since 1987 and has common law rights over the mark, which can be seen in the liner notes for the band’s 1989 album Blood, Sweat and No Tears, as well as on the cover of the 1991 EP We Stand Alone. The first known instance of the dragon logo appearing on Mobb Deep products was the 12” promo single for “Drop a Gem on ‘Em,” distributed to DJs in 1996 to promote their forthcoming album Hell on Earth. The song was written as a response to Tupac Shakur’s infamous diss track “Hit ‘Em Up.” In 2000, Sick of It All covered Mobb Deep’s “Survival of the Fittest” for the Loud Records compilation Loud Rocks.