With the recent news surrounding “meme stocks,” Robinhood has become a household name. However, the investing platform has been in the news recently for other reasons. On March 8, 2021, Robinhood posted an image of rapper O’Shea Jackson, professionally known as Ice Cube, from his movie Are We There Yet? along with the caption, “Correct yourself, before you wreck yourself,” a play on words referencing Ice Cube’s famous song “Check Yo Self.” Ice Cube sued Robinhood shortly thereafter, alleging, in part, that Robinhood misappropriated his name and likeness.
Last week, a federal Magistrate Judge dismissed Ice Cube’s complaint, reasoning that Ice Cube failed to adequately plead that Robinhood, by using his image and the corresponding quote, suggested that Ice Cube endorsed Robinhood. However, the judge is allowing Ice Cube leave to amend his complaint, and Ice Cube’s attorneys feel confident that Ice Cube’s amended complaint will remedy any issues the judge found in the initial complaint.
North Carolina recognizes a tort claim for invasion of privacy based on the misappropriation of one’s likeness where someone’s name, photograph, or other likeness is used, without authorization, in connection with an advertisement or other commercial gain. To successfully bring an invasion of privacy claim under this theory, a plaintiff must prove the following two elements: (1) the defendant appropriated the plaintiff’s name or likeness for the defendant’s own commercial use or benefit; and (2) the plaintiff did not consent to the defendant’s appropriation of his or her name or likeness. Ice Cube’s claim would likely fail under North Carolina law as well, because, according to the dismissal order, he did not adequately plead the first element—that Robinhood appropriated his name or likeness for Robinhood’s own commercial use or benefit. Whether Ice Cube’s attorneys can cure this defect in an amended complaint remains to be seen.
If you believe you have been the victim of invasion of privacy or need assistance in maintaining or defending a civil action, please call us at (704) 457-1010 to discuss what claims you may have in North Carolina. For more information regarding our firm, attorneys, and practice areas, please visit our website at www.lindleylawoffice.com.
Written by Emily Seaton