50 Cent has created his own multiverse with his connected series such as “Power,” “Power Book II: Ghost,” Power Book III: Raisin,” and “Power Book IV: Force” on STARZ.
One of the newest shows — “BMF” — that primarily exists outside this realm is based on a real-life Detroit drug and money laundering organization, Black Mafia Family.
While the television show is headed into the second season and has seen a ton of commercial success, it is also at the epicenter of an ongoing lawsuit.
Breaking It Down
According to Forbes, Byron Belin filed a lawsuit against media companies STARZ and Lions Gate, plus Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and his G-Unit businesses, in December 2021.
The lawsuit claims that Belin owns the rights to the trademark “BMF” and that he and his media partners have used that trademark to market and sell television services since 2017.
Jackson’s STARZ series premiered in September 2021 and quickly became the network’s highest-watched show.
Following the show’s success, 50 Cent quickly found himself in the middle of this trademark infringement case.
Due to Jackson and STARZ’s use of the acronym, Belin claims that using “BMF” is “unfair competition, false designation of origin, trademark counterfeiting, and false advertising, among other additional claims,” the outlet reports.
According to Cornell Law, the Lanham Act “provides for a national system of trademark registration and protects the owner of a federally registered mark against the use of similar marks if such use is likely to result in consumer confusion, or if the dilution of a famous mark is likely to occur.”
The Official Response
In response, 50 Cent and his team filed a Motion to Dismiss the claim. The defendants (50 Cent) argue that the use of BMF for the television show is a part of expressive work and is used in association with the show and acronym form for Black Mafia Family. They also allege that its use is protected under the First Amendment under the Rogers Test.
Lexology explains that the Rogers Test is “employed when the allegedly infringing use involves an expressive work.”
The test is based on the precedence case of Rogers v. Grimaldi and is intended to be used to balance public interest and avoid brand confusion among consumers.
The Next Phase
In July 2022, Belin filed a First Amended Complaint that expresses that the use of BMF is “explicitly misleading.” While this is the first hurdle for Belin, he must have more specific proof of his claims before the possibility of a successful case.
Based on the Forbes report, Belin must prove that he (1) owns a “valid, protectable trademark” and (2) the use of the said trademark is not “artistically relevant to the underlying work or explicitly misleading as to the source or content of the work.”
In the filed complaint, Belin has a laundry list of items that he claims are associated with the BMF acronym. However, based on United States trademark laws, if Belin cannot prove that many of the services associated with BMF have not been provided – his trademark is at risk of cancellation.
If canceled, that would gravely affect the ongoing litigation and provide an edge for 50 Cent, STARZ, and all other associated parties.
Still Moving Forward
While the lawsuit drama is high, Jackson and STARZ are moving forward.
Season two is scheduled to premiere sometime in September 2022.