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Rock & Roll Lawsuits: Eddie Van Halen, Metallica, Iron Maiden and More

This week, when Van Halen guitar god Eddie Van Halen released his lawyers on Nike, it got us thinking about some of our favorite rock and roll lawsuits. Eddie’s, of course, is now one of them. Eddie’s claiming the sneaker company used the trademarked striped design from his guitar on their new line of “Dunk Lows” tennis shoes (photo here). The suit contends Nike violated a 2001 copyright for the design on the body of his “Frankenstein” electric guitar, and seeks general and punitive damages for “irreparable harm and damage.”

Yesterday, Nike responded to the suit in a statement to Footwear News, saying the suit is “without merit” and that the shoe’s design “is not substantially similar to any of the Van Halen designs, and Nike has not referenced the ‘Van Halen’ name or image as part of any marketing campaign or promotional material associated with the shoe.”

While suing someone is very un-metal, here’s a quick look at some of the other suits that rank among our favorites.

After suing Napster in the late 1990s, Metallica took action against French cosmetics firm Guerlain in 2000, over the name of one of their perfumes: they named it ‘Metallica.’ The band’s filing demanded the perfume be renamed, as it causes “confusion, deception and mistake in the minds of the public.” That same year, Metallica sued Victoria’s Secret over a line of lip make-up, also called ‘Metallica.’

In 2005, Slipknot sued Burger King, claiming that its image and persona had been hijacked as part of a marketing campaign for the food chain’s chicken fries. The ads featured a mock band called Coq Roq, which, the suit maintained, was a “look-alike, sound alike ‘band’ in order to influence the Slipknot generation to purchase Chicken Fries.”

This year, Iron Maiden‘s lawyers earned their keep, filing a suit against the makers of a comic-book series called ‘Iron and the Maiden.’ Iron Maiden’s suit claimed the comic’s name was “confusingly similar,” and designed to cash in on the band’s popularity.

In 2005, Nike came under fire for its skateboarding tour, which they dubbed “Major Threat.” Posters for the tour depicted a bald man sitting on a stoop, head resting on his bended knees, sporting Nike’s SB sneakers, sort of like the cover of the Minor Threat‘s 1988 EP. “What were they thinking?” frontman Ian MacKaye wondered. The posters did manage to reunite the band’s members, if only to discuss what actions they would take against the sneaker giant.

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