“Likely to cause confusion, mistake, and deception”: Drake is sued for T-shirt copyright infringement

(Image credit: Getty Images/Frazer Harrison)

More trouble for Drake. This time the Canadian rapper is being sued over some tour merch which – it is alleged – infringes copyright.

According to Billboard, a lawsuit has been issued by JR Apparel World LLC asserting that in selling T-shirts on his recent It’s All A Blur tour emblazoned with the words ‘Members Only’, his company Away From Home Touring Inc are infringing copyright. JR Apparel currently owns the brand Members Only, whose jackets were popular in the 1980s.

Drake’s shirts do indeed feature the phrase across the front, though this is a reference to a track of the same name on his 2023 album For All The Dogs. JR Apparel’s lawyers are arguing that this makes no difference – it’s still a copyright infringement.

Drake - Members Only (Audio) ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR - YouTube Drake - Members Only (Audio) ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR - YouTube
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“The fact that Members Only is a song on Drake’s album For All the Dogs does not obviate the likelihood of confusion or give [him] a license to use our client’s ‘Members Only’ marks in such a confusing manner, particularly on or in connection with apparel items,” the company’s lawyers have stated.

Punters might be fooled into thinking these are branded Members Only shirts in other words: “Away From Home’s use of ‘Members Only’ … is likely to cause confusion, mistake, and deception among consumers as to the origin of Away From Home’s infringing T shirts.”

In US law, companies with similar brand names can co-exist if they do not encroach on each other’s marketplace. So whilst it was fine for Drake to use that phrase as a song title, as soon as it was emblazoned on a T shirt he was competing in the same clothing market as the Members Only brand, thus possibly infringing copyright.

It’s not been a comfortable few weeks for Drake. First in early May there were the diss tracks that volleyed back and forth between Kendrick Lamar and himself. Just a few days later a security guard at his home in Toronto was shot and had to be taken to hospital, though it remains unclear whether there was any connection between this and the Lamar/Drake beef.

Snowd4y - Wah Gwan Delilah (feat. Drake) - YouTube Snowd4y - Wah Gwan Delilah (feat. Drake) - YouTube
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On a lighter note, in the last few days there has been the mystery of the Drake feature on Wah Gwan Delilah, a remix/parody of the Plain White T’s 1990s hit Hey There Delilah by fellow Toronto rapper Snowd4y. 

The White Ts frontman Tom Higgenson is convinced that Drake’s voice isn’t him at all, but AI. He took to social media saying: “That’s not Drake. It’s crazy that everybody thinks that it’s real. It seems like it’s very obvious.” Meanwhile Drake has shared it on his Instagram page, suggesting perhaps that it is him.

Will Simpson
News and features writer

Will Simpson is a freelance music expert whose work has appeared in Classic Rock, Classic Pop, Guitarist and Total Guitar magazine. He is the author of 'Freedom Through Football: Inside Britain's Most Intrepid Sports Club' and his second book 'An American Cricket Odyssey' is due out in 2025