The following article was written by Spencer Wingate.
Kevin Durant is not having an excellent week. Not only must he deal with a defeat to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, but now a lawsuit accusing him of trademark infringement. Musician Mark Durante is suing Durant, K Durant Enterprises, Nike, and Panini America for the unauthorized use of the moniker- “Durantula”. In addition to trademark infringement, Durante’s lawsuit accuses the defendants of unfair competition, consumer fraud, and deceptive trade practices.
According to the lawsuit, Durante is a Chicago based guitarist who has played in a variety of bands. Starting in the late 1980s his on-stage performance and persona earned him the nickname “Durantula”. Allegedly, Durante built a strong national presence operating under the moniker in the music and entertainment industry. He became widely known and regarded across the music scene as “Durantula”. He used the name in connection with music, recordings, apparel, t-shirts, guitars, and additional merchandise. Durante performed in numerous concerts while recording albums; most applicably his two solo albums Welcome to the Earth and The Moai Men under “Durantula”.
The court documents note even more of Durante’s business operations under the trademark. Durante runs a website titled www.durantula.com that has been consistently updated for the past ten years. He also operates a custom guitar design business titled “Durantula”. The United States Patent and Trademark Office granted Durante trademark registration number 3,748,227-“Durantula” for his musical business use of the name.
The lawsuit filed by Durante alleges that Durant’s growing popularity in 2010 led to his unauthorized use of “Durantula”. Durant did not hold the license to market the name and was infringing on Durante’s business, Durante wrote to Durant’s representation in 2010, Goodwin Sports Management. Mr. Eric Goodwin, President of GSM, informed Durante they never authorized a company nor media outlet to use the term. Mr. Goodwin also stated that Durant did not plan on using the nickname then or in the future.
Durante contacted Durant’s representation again in 2012 to demand he cease use of the moniker. Durant’s agent now, Rob Pelinka of Landmark Sports Agency, had a similar reply as Goodwin. He stated they had not authorized nor licensed any company to use the trademark. To support his claim in his lawsuit, Durante references promotions of many materials like autographed memorabilia and Nike shoe advertisements that identify Kevin Durant as “Durantula”.
Durante claims as Durant attempts to operate under his celebrity identity, he needs a license and has put Durant’s management on notice since 2010. By identifying himself as “Durantula”, Durant is confusing the consumers and infringing on Durante’s identity. Durante asserts he has been using the moniker for nineteen consecutive years and holds the rights to it. He is seeking an injunction, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney fees, and whatever else the court deems just.
For Durante to win his lawsuit it is essential he can prove that the defendants have created confusion in the marketplace regarding the origin of his goods. He must establish that the term “Durantula” is his trademark to protect. Then he can begin to establish that Durant’s identification as “Durantula” deceives the public.
Another NBA player dealt with a trademark dispute earlier this year as Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks was able to take control of the catch phrase “Linsanity”. The point guard had filed for rights to the moniker after several filings had been made by people with questionable or nonexistent ties to the trademark.