Young Thug, the 25-year-old rapper from Atlanta, has decided to open up his own record label, and his new venture is already coming under fire. In a series of Snapchats, the celebrated young musician introduced his new label, entitled, YSL records, short for “Young Stoner Life;" the label’s new logo; its offices and its team; and excerpts from a motivational speech from 300 Entertainment’s co-founder (300 Entertainment is Young Thug’s current home).
As of now, it is unclear who will be signing to YSL’s roster. Duke, one of Young Thug’s frequent collaborators, is widely suspected to be one of the first to sign on. It is also unclear as to how Yves Saint Laurent, the brand that originally introduced the YSL moniker, will react.
What we do know is this: It is not terribly uncommon for artists to co-opt names from established fashion houses. Depending on the brand at issue and it's stance on intellectual property, some artists are more successful in doing so than others. Gucci Mane, for instance, has been using the Italian design house's trademark protected name for roughly 15 years now without any formal legal ramifications from Gucci. Burberry Perry was not as lucky; he was slapped with a strongly worded trademark infringement lawsuit this year from the London-based brand.
While Young Thug’s new label, Young Stoner Life, may accurately reflect aspects of his life, not to mention it is has been a common element in many of his songs, that does not mean Yves Saint Laurent will not pursue legal action. Moreover, even if YSL - the Paris-based brand - does not hold federal trademark rights in the classes of goods/services that encompass music (which is interesting given its many, many musician-centric ad campaigns under former creative director Hedi Slimane), that does not mean it is without legal recourse.
In fact, the Anthony Vaccarello-helmed house could rely on trademark dilution claims to shut down Young Thug. Trademark dilution is a trademark law concept giving the owner of a “famous” (a legal term of art) trademark (such as YSL, hypothetically) standing to forbid others from using their mark in a way that would lessen its uniqueness or its strength. In most cases, trademark dilution involves the unauthorized use of another’s trademark in connection with goods and/ or services that do not compete with, or have little connection with, those of the trademark owner.
It is also worth noting that Yves Saint Laurent is no stranger to trademark cases. In 2015, the house sued the maker of “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves” parody t-shirts. The case ultimately settled out of court but not before we could garner that the brand is not a fan of others using its name without its authorization. Whether or not this suggests that YSL will take action in the case at hand is up for debate.
Also undecided: Whether Young Thug's longtime friend and collaborator, Travis Scott, who recently starred in Yves Saint Laurent's 003 video, will be able to smooth the potential strife.
We have reached out to YSL's counsel and are awaiting comment.