Did LeBron James steal barbershop show idea?
A lawsuit claims James ripped off the idea and created a show that is likely to cause 'confusion or misunderstanding'
Lawsuit alleges trademark infringement, unfair competition, conspiracy and more
DETROIT (CN) – Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James and his multimedia platform Uninterrupted were sued April 16 by a Detroit barbershop that claims the basketball player ripped off its concept for a web series that features discussions in a barbershop setting.
Adventure Enterprises, which does business as The Social Club Grooming Company, sued James in Detroit federal court, alleging trademark infringement.
According to the complaint, Adventure Enterprises founder Sebastian Jackson came up with a concept in 2016 for a space that doubles as a forum for local and national personalities – including musicians, business owners, and athletes – to talk about their stories while getting a haircut.
“This forum is designed to give our audience of well-traveled, well-educated and well-groomed individuals an opportunity to engage with local and global innovators, influencers and leaders. While participating in an engaging conversation, the audience looks on as leaders get their haircut,” the Social Club website states.
The lawsuit claims Uninterrupted ripped off the idea and created a show that is likely to cause “confusion or misunderstanding.” According to the complaint, Jackson pitched the “Shop Talk” concept to Uninterrupted executives from 2014 through 2016, seeking to partner with the multimedia platform for athletes.
“Just as Shop Talk gained momentum from a successful launch, Uninterrupted and its cadre of associates – including LeBron James – stole this concept from Mr. Jackson and his company for their own commercial gain, ” the 22-page lawsuit states.
Uninterrupted aired its own version of the concept called “The Shop” online in December 2016, according to Adventure Enterprises.
“Defendants’ show featured LeBron James having conversations in a barbershop setting while engaging in an intimate conversation describing cultural experiences with his contemporaries,” the complaint states.
Represented by Butzel Long attorney Bernard Fuhs, Adventure Enterprises seeks an injunction that prevents James and Uninterrupted from using the “confusingly similar” mark.
Adventure Enterprises notes that just months after it sent a cease and desist letter, Uninterrupted and James “exposed their own lies” by sending their own letter to the University of Alabama over another barbershop-centered show, also called “Shop Talk.”
The April 2, 2018 letter “gloated and bragged” about “The Shop” viewing figures and its impact on social media, according to the production company.
“Such an admission only serves to underscore the significant damage Adventure Enterprises has incurred as result of defendants’ wrongful conduct and infringement,” the filing states.
In addition to trademark infringement, the lawsuit alleges service-mark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, conversion, and conspiracy.
James’ legal representative did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.