Image: Complaint

Vogue’s owner has reached a settlement in the lawsuit that it waged against Drake and 21 Savage last year over their unauthorized use of the magazine’s trademarks to promote their then-newly-released album. In the complaint that it lodged with a New York federal court in November, Advance Publications d/b/a Condé Nast alleged that the rappers infringed its Vogue mark by way of a “deceptive” campaign “built entirely on the use of the VOGUE trademarks and the premise that Drake and 21 Savage would be featured on the cover of Vogue’s next issue.” In an early win for Condé, Judge Jed Rakoff of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered that Drake and 21 Savage immediately refrain from using Vogue’s trademark-protected name to promote their album, and shortly thereafter, the musicians consented to a preliminary injunction.

In the order that he issued in November, Judge Rakoff determined that a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) was “necessary … to protect the public from confusion, deception, and mistake, and to protect Condé Nast from immediate irreparable injury.” The judge found that Drake and 21 Savage’s creation and dissemination of “images of a counterfeit cover of Vogue magazine featuring the Vogue mark and an image of [themselves], as well as copies of a counterfeit magazine purporting to be a genuine issue of Vogue magazine” were confusing consumers about “the origin, sponsorship, or approval of the counterfeit cover and counterfeit magazine, misleading consumers to believe that these are genuine and authentic materials associated with Condé Nast and Vogue magazine.” 

Drake, 21 Savage's fake vogue cover

In furtherance of its bid for a TRO late last year, counsel for Condé Nast pointed to media articles linking the musicians’ faux magazine cover to Vogue, and social media user comments that it said establish that consumers were actually confused about the nature of the allegedly infringing promo campaign and that reflect “the widespread belief that the counterfeit issue and counterfeit cover disseminated by the defendants were real.” 

The settlement – which brings an end to the parties’ until-recently-ongoing discovery (according to a Feb. 2 stipulation and order regarding the deadline for joinder of additional parties) – puts a permanent injunction in place, barring Drake and 21 Savage from using the Vogue trademark or any confusingly similar marks in a commercial capacity. The rappers will also pay an unspecified sum to Condé, the company’s general counsel Will Bowes stated in an internal memo on Thursday, as first reported by Reuters. Reflecting on what distinguished Drake and 21 Savage’s use of the Vogue mark from a wide array of others’ unauthorized uses of the name of the famed magazine, Bowes said that “it was clear to us that Drake and 21 Savage leveraged Vogue’s reputation for their own commercial purposes and in the process, confused audiences who trust Vogue as the authoritative voice on fashion and culture.” 

Bowes noted that the settlement it will serve to “bolster our ongoing creative output, including Vogue editorial.”  

The case is Advance Magazine Publishers v. Aubrey Drake Graham, et al., 1:22-cv-09517 (SDNY).