Veteran hip-hop/R&B producer Teddy Riley has filed a lawsuit against former members of Blackstreet, accusing the estranged members of illegally using the group’s name.
Teddy Riley and group member Chauncey Hannibal filed the lawsuit against former group members Mark Middleton and Eric Williams on December 1, in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia.
According to the lawsuit, Teddy Riley is half of the owner of the Blackstreet trademark, while long time associate Chauncey Hannibal owns the other half.
The pair have held the rights to the name since 1992, prior to the release of any Blackstreet albums.
The lawsuit claims that from 2003 until present, Mark Middleton and Eric Williams have booked themselves as Blackstreet for performances, without the proper permission or consent.
Lawyers for Teddy Riley and Chauncey Hannibal claim that the two men have ignored several cease and desist letters, but still continue to book shows as Blackstreet.
The lawsuit claims that as recently as November of 2011 the pair have claimed that they were Blackstreet.
The confusion has scared away several booking agents, which resulted in the cancellation of an official Blackstreet tour of Europe.
To make matters worse, the two men went on Jenny Boom Boom’s show on Hot 93.7 in Hartford, to discuss the matter.
During the interview, the men admitted to having issues with Teddy Riley and Chauncey Hannibal.
They also claimed that there were two “different sets” of Blackstreet because Teddy Riley and Chauncey Hannibal have refused to share proceeds.
Blackstreet was formed in 1991.
The group’s debut album was released in 1994, with members Teddy Riley, Dave Hollister, Chauncey Black and Levi Little.
Middleton and Williams did not join the group until 1996, when Blackstreet hit big with the Dr. Dre-assisted single “No Diggity,” from their album Another Level.
According to Teddy Riley and Chauncey Hannibal, Mark Middleton and Eric Williams signed contracts which stipulated that they were works for hire, meaning they have no rights to use the Blackstreet name.
“Defendants have used the name and mark Blackstreet in such a manner as to create actual confusion and likelihood of confusion among prospective customers and/or purchasers of the services provided by plaintiffs,” the lawsuit reads.
“Defendants have harmed the goodwill of plaintiffs in the name and mark Blackstreet, causing immediate and irreparable harm to plaintiffs.”