Canadian progressive house music producer and performer Joel Zimmerman, professionally known as deadmau5 (“deadmouse”) filed a federal lawsuit Thursday stating West Coast Vape Supply is intentionally infringing on his deadmau5 trademark. Seems West Coast Vape Supply’s deadmodz electronic cigarette line is trying to capitalize on Zimmerman’s name (read: fame). According to the lawsuit the products
overlap with, are closely related to deadmau5’s Goods and Services and/or represent a natural zone of expansion for deadmau5, and such goods are or would be marketed and sold to the same types of consumers through the same channels of trade.
Zimmerman is suing for trademark infringement and false association; while seeking statutory and punitive damages and a permanent injunction that would ban West Coast Vape from using deadmodz. His attorney Irene Lee sent a statement to The Hollywood Reporter saying they’re suing to protect Zimmerman’s trademark and his fans. Lee with on to state:
Our client faces unscrupulous people trying to take advantage goodwill associated with his intellectual property and his fame. We are grateful for our fans and believe it’s our obligation to make sure our fans are not duped into buying things that deadmau5 did not authorize.
The lawsuit claims deadmau5 is not only a trademark, but a brand Zimmerman has been building for over a decade. It also explains the origins of his on-stage persona. For those not in the know, back in 2002, Zimmerman found a dead mouse inside his computer. Posting the story online, people started referring to him as the “dead mouse guy.” He embraced his new nickname and tried to change his screen name to “deadmouse”. Finding the Internet Relay Chat channel he was using limited usernames to eight characters, and using leetspeak, he became deadmau5.
Not only is the name “deadmodz” similar to that of “deadmau5,” Lee argues, the vape company also copied the bubble font Zimmerman uses in his logo. Lee shared the following photo, which is an exhibit to the suit:
In an effort to avoid the litigation, Zimmerman’s transactional attorney Dina LaPolt sent several letters to Alham Benyameen, the principal of West Coast Vape. After an initial cease and desist letter sent on Feburay 5th, Benyameen substantially changed his website and logo design. In response LaPolt made it clear that wasn’t good enough and tried again to settle out of court in a Feburay 19th letter:
Please understand that your attempted changes do not negate that fact that you have violated and continue to violate our client’s rights, and thus are liable for, among other things, trademark and copyright infringement and attendant damages. In fact, your changes only highlight your acknowledgement and concession of wrongdoing, which admittedly is willful, knowing and intentional.
When they didn’t respond, Lee prepared the suit.
Instead of conceding their wrongdoing and agreeing to comply with our requests, they refused to acknowledge deadmau5’s intellectual property rights and their wrongdoing, necessitating this legal action. We intend to vigorously protect deadmau5’s rights.