Eazy-E’s Widow Sues Stepson Over Ruthless Records, N.W.A Trademarks
Eazy-E‘s widow, Tomica Woods-Wright, is suing her stepson, Eric Darnell Wright, among others, for trademark infringement over his use of the Ruthless Records name and N.W.A.
Per the lawsuit obtained by Rolling Stone, Woods-Wright and her company, Comptown Records, assumed control of Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records after the N.W.A rapper’s death in 1995. However, the suit alleges that Wright – who also goes by Lil Eazy-E – and his partner, Arnold E. White (a.k.a. Bigg A), launched their own company that piggybacks off both Ruthless and N.W.A.
A lawyer for Woods-Wright declined to comment on the case. Representatives for Wright and White did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
In 2016, Wright and White allegedly formed a corporation called NWA-LLC and subsequently tried to obtain a trademark for Ruthless Records Inc. to use for an online retail store. However, according to the lawsuit, the U.S. Patent office rejected their application on the basis that their mark was “confusingly similar” with the Ruthless Records marks Woods-Wright already owned.
The lawsuit details the numerous trademarks Woods-Wright’s company has already registered. These include the use of Ruthless and N.W.A for music, film, video games and clothing. Nevertheless, the suit accuses Wright and White of launching a website, RuthlessRecordsInc.com, and using Ruthless Records and N.W.A to “advertise and promote musical artists and events.”
Furthermore, the suit points out that Ruthless Records Inc. has used language that is “intentionally false and misleading.” For instance, the suit accuses Wright and White of describing Ruthless Records Inc. as “founded by legendary gangsta rap artist Eazy-E,” while the company’s website states, “Ruthless Records Inc. is an exclusive branding and marketing agency for NWA Entertainment and signed artists under NWA Entertainment.” The suit claims that Wright and White’s conduct is “malicious, fraudulent, deliberate, and/or willful.”
It’s unclear how much Woods-Wright is suing for, though the suit does ask for Wright and White to pay punitive and statutory damages, costs of the suit and attorneys fees and “further relief as the Court may deem just and appropriate.”