50 Cent has reached a settlement with Rémy Martin to end a lawsuit that claimed his Branson brand of cognac copied the design of the company’s bottles.
E. Rémy Martin & Co. sued in 2021, claiming the liquor brand owned by the rapper (real name Curtis Jackson) had infringed patent and trade dress rights by mimicking Rémy’s XO bottle. 50 Cent’s company, Sire Spirits, called the case “meritless” and accused the bigger rival of trying to “destroy a competitor.”
But in a filing on Monday, the two sides said they had squashed their beef — reaching a “confidential” settlement agreement on June 1 that would fully resolve the litigation. The specific terms of the deal, like whether any money was exchanged or products would be changed, were not made public.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for Rémy confirmed to Billboard the agreement would end the case, but declined to offer more details: “Rémy appreciates and respects Mr. Jackson’s entry into the Cognac market and the parties share a common vision for the future of this exceptional and precious spirit. The parties are gratified that this matter could be resolved amicably.”
An attorney for Sire Spirits did not immediately return a request for comment.
50 Cent launched Branson in 2018, selling the cognac in a circular bottle with gem-like facets that was designed by the rapper himself. But in August 2021, Rémy Martin sued on the grounds that the bottle was “nearly indistinguishable” from the “toroidal” shape of its own famous bottle.
“Defendants have willfully and blatantly designed their bottle to unfairly capitalize on the goodwill and reputation that Plaintiff’s bottle has achieved and to unabashedly profit from its bad faith infringement,” the company’s lawyers wrote in their complaint.
Rémy Martin accused the Branson bottle of infringing both design patents and trade dress — a form of trademark that covers the well-known shape or packaging of a product, like a Coca-Cola bottle or blue Tiffany’s box. The lawsuit claimed the bottle was “a blatant attempt” to make consumers think of Rémy Martin.
In October, 50 Cent and Sire fired back, blasting the rival for trying to “eliminate” an upstart competitor and “monopolize the Cognac market.” The company said Rémy Martin’s case was so weak that it should be dismissed at the outset.
“This action is a naked effort to use meritless litigation to financially destroy a competitor,” Sire’s attorneys wrote at the time. “Rémy Martin must be stopped, and the claims against Sire Spirits should not be allowed to survive.”
But in a pair of rulings last year, U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein refused to dismiss the case against 50 Cent’s company. “This is not a case in which the claimed and accused designs are so plainly dissimilar that it is implausible that an ordinary observer would confuse them,” the judge wrote at the time.
Those decisions sent the case deeper into litigation and headed toward an eventual trial. But the case has largely been on ice for months as the two sides worked toward the settlement that was reached earlier this month.