Jay-Z Is Owed $6.8M In Unpaid Royalties Over Failed Cologne Brand, NY Court Rules

A New York state appeals court has sided with Jay-Z in his long-legal battle against a fragrance company called Parlux over a cologne endorsement deal that went bad.

In a ruling issued Thursday, a panel of appeals judges upheld a 2021 jury verdict that cleared the superstar of wrongdoing and potentially $67 million in damages. It also affirmed a judge’s ruling last year that it was actually Jay-Z, and not Parlux, that was owed money — nearly $7 million in unpaid royalties.

“There were multiple rational bases for upholding the jury verdict, and plaintiffs have not set forth a sufficient basis … to overturn it,” a five-judge panel ruled unanimously.

Barring further appeals, the decision could finally mean the end for more than six years of litigation over “Gold Jay-Z,” a cologne brand that the superstar, whose real name is Shawn Carter, launched in 2013 through a partnership with Parlux.

In its 2016 lawsuit, the company accused the rapper and his S. Carter Enterprises of failing to properly promote the brand, breaching his contract and dooming the product to failure. Jay-Z quickly countersued, claiming he had fulfilled his obligations despite numerous missteps from Parlux – and that the company still owed him money.

After a three week trial in late 2021, featuring heated testimony from the star himself, jurors largely sided with Jay-Z and found that Parlux was entitled to nothing. Then in August, New York Supreme Court Justice Andrew Borrok ruled Parlux owes Jay-Z $6.78 million in unpaid royalties, including interest.

Seeking the overturn the verdict on appeal, attorneys for Parlux argued that the trial judge had improperly instructed the jury about requirements in the contract about Jay-Z’s personal appearances and the need for Parlux to provide a “product development plan.”

But in Thursday’s ruling, the appellate panel was unmoved: “The court correctly instructed the jury on the burdens of proof, and any error in characterizing the notice requirement for personal appearances and the PDP as ‘conditions precedent’ was harmless when considering the overall instructions.”

Parlux can still challenge the outcome once more, taking the case to the Court of Appeals, New York’s top appellate court. An attorney for the company did not immediately return a request for comment.

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