Copyright Law

Rapper IDK wrongly calls out Popeyes Chicken for copyright infringement

What do you get when you put a famous Rapper, Twitter, and fried chicken together? Apparently… a big misunderstanding. Here’s the whole story…

by Timothy Geigner of Tech Dirt

I’ll preface this post with this short bit of throat-clearing: no writer or reader of this site should expect the average person on the street to understand the nuances of intellectual property at the same level of those of us interested in the topic. The law is complicated and nuanced, and the layperson is simply not going to have the background that some of us have. 

That being said, I very much would expect — nay, demand — that anyone going on the attack with threats over intellectual property concerns know what the hell they’re talking about when they do so. Take Jason Mills, a rapper known better by his nom de plume “IDK”. Mills trademarked his stage name, as one would expect. But then, as one would not expect, he apparently took issue with the following announcement from Popeyes.

You get the bit. “IDK” is shorthand for “I don’t know” and Popeyes created a meal those those who could say, “I didn’t know I needed this meal”. Mildly clever at best. But, to be fair, far more clever than IDK’s response on Twitter.

Okay, so let’s unpack this. First, there are a handful of people on Twitter telling IDK that they thought he got his own meal through Popeyes. I’m talking about a couple of people here. That counts for some measure of confusion, though I’d argue it’s extremely limited and… kind of dumb?

Especially when you consider IDK’s main salvo here: “y’all know I own the trademark for IDK?” And this is where the nuance in trademark law comes into play. See, Mills does indeed have a trademark for “IDK,” but specifically in the markets for audio/video recordings, apparel, and live music concerts. You know, rap artist stuff. What his trademark doesn’t do is let him control the use of “IDK” in the area of slingin’ chicken meals, which is what Popeyes is doing with it.

Not to mention that “IDK” is a very commonly used acronymn, as previously discussed. Even some of the replies to IDK seem to get that.

So there’s no real legal action to be had here. Popeyes’ use is perfectly legit. IDK can take away a more nuanced understanding of trademark law from this. But what can’t be done is simply saying, “Hey, I own the trademark on this” as though that were any kind of threat.

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