"Everyday I'm Hustlin'"
Stefan Gordy et al.
"Everyday I'm Shufflin'"
Comment by Charles Cronin
The Complaint (copy below) leaves one with the impression that the plaintiffs’ attorneys are at least dimly aware that their copyright infringement claim is groundless. Despite its sweeping, though unsubstantiated, allegations of infringement, the basis of the claim is the short title phrase “Everyday I’m Hustlin”. The phrase itself is not copyrightable expression as a title or as words of a song, nor is the tinned electronic sound over which William Roberts incessantly chants the phrase in his recording of this charmless number that is replete with violent, racist, and sexist themes and language.
But the deep pockets of the KIA Motors Company are irresistible, and the potentially scant-of-billable-work plaintiffs’ attorneys, like the “world-renowned hip-hop recording artist” (the Complaint actually says this) “everyday are hustlin’” to scare up fees, perhaps even contingency fees. Accordingly, in addition to the copyright infringement claim – and especially given its frailty – they have concocted a trademark infringement claim, alleging that defendants’ sale of tee shirts bearing the expression “Everyday I’m Shufflin’” infringes plaintiffs’ trademark in the phrase “Everyday I’m Hustlin’”.
The plaintiffs have “acquired trademark rights” according to the Complaint, but there is no mention of a registration, and it is difficult to imagine a protectable association in the minds of consumers between the phrase and any good or service other than the plaintiffs’ song itself. The fact that the defendants replicated the grammatical/orthographic error of the plaintiff’s title (“everyday” is an adjective; the title should, of course, be written “Every Day I’m …”) has no bearing on its eligibility for trademark or copyright protection.