U.S. Markets close in 4 hrs 18 mins
  • S&P 500

    3,663.48
    +1.03 (+0.03%)
     
  • Dow 30

    29,811.66
    -12.26 (-0.04%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    12,333.60
    -21.50 (-0.17%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    1,832.81
    -3.24 (-0.18%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    45.69
    +1.14 (+2.56%)
     
  • Gold

    1,830.00
    +11.10 (+0.61%)
     
  • Silver

    24.04
    -0.05 (-0.21%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.2098
    +0.0019 (+0.1573%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    0.9510
    +0.0170 (+1.82%)
     
  • Vix

    20.79
    +0.02 (+0.10%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3354
    -0.0069 (-0.5168%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    104.5200
    +0.2040 (+0.1956%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    18,931.48
    -62.42 (-0.33%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    371.26
    +6.34 (+1.74%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    6,463.26
    +78.53 (+1.23%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    26,800.98
    +13.44 (+0.05%)
     

Citing racial bias, Jay-Z seeks to halt arbitration against Iconix

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Jay-Z on Wednesday sued to halt his private arbitration with clothing company Iconix Brand Group Inc, saying the company's inability to find an African-American arbitrator to hear the trademark dispute was unfair.

The multimillionaire rapper said in a petition filed in Manhattan Supreme Court that the lack of racial diversity among arbitrators at the American Arbitration Association (AAA) was discriminatory under New York's state constitution and a New York City human rights law.

Iconix could not immediately be reached for comment, and a spokeswoman for the AAA declined to comment.

The dispute is the latest in a series of legal wranglings arising from Jay-Z's 2007 sale of his Rocawear clothing brand to Iconix for about $204 million. Iconix has since written off almost the entire value of the brand, and in 2017 sued Jay-Z in Manhattan federal court over trademark rights. That case remains pending.

In 2015, Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, and Iconix settled some disputes, and agreed to address future claims in private arbitration, according to Jay-Z's petition.

Last month, Iconix accused Jay-Z of breaching the 2015 settlement and demanded an AAA arbitration.

But Jay-Z said the AAA found only three potential African-American arbitrators, out of the hundreds it uses, for his case, and one already represented Iconix in related litigation.

He argued that the lack of "more than a token number of African-Americans" made the arbitration contract void.

"It would stand to reason that prospective litigants - which undoubtedly include minority owned and operated businesses - expect there to be the possibility that the person who stands in the shoes of both judge and jury reflects the diverse population," the petition said.

Jay-Z, 48, is famous for songs including "Hard Knock Life," "99 Problems" and "Big Pimpin'."

The Brooklyn native has won 21 Grammy Awards, most recently in 2015 for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance for "Drunk in Love" with his wife, pop star Beyonce.

In May, a federal judge ordered him to respond to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission subpoena related to the Rocawear sale.

The SEC said it was looking in to writedowns by Iconix, and wanted to ask Jay-Z about his personal involvement with the brand. (Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis)