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Jay-Z on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the termination of its private arbitration with Iconix Brand Group Inc, stating that the company's inability to find a black market arbitrator to consider a trademark dispute is unfair.
The multi-million dollar rapper said in a petition filed in the Supreme Court of Manhattan that the lack of racial diversity among arbitrators at the American Arbitration Association (AAA) was discriminatory in accordance with the constitution of New York and the New York human rights law.
Iconix could not be reached immediately for comment, and an AAA spokeswoman declined to comment.
The dispute is the latest in a series of legal disputes related to the sale of Jay-Z in 2007 of its Rocawear trademark to Iconix for about $ 204 million. Since then, Iconix has written off almost the entire cost of the brand, and in 2017 it sued Jay-Z in a federal court in Manhattan for trademark rights. This case remains pending.
In 2015, Jay-Z, whose real name Shawn Carter and Iconix resolved some controversy, agreed to consider future claims in a private arbitration, according to a petition by Jay-Z.
Last month, Iconix accused Jay-Z of violating the 2015 agreement and demanded AAA arbitration.
But Jay-Z said that AAA found only three potential African American arbitrators, out of the hundreds that he uses for his case, and one has already introduced Iconix in related lawsuits.
He argued that the absence of "more than a symbolic number of African-Americans" made the arbitration agreement invalid.
“It would be based on the fact that potential supporters, who undoubtedly include minority-owned and managed enterprises, expect that the person who stands in the place of both judges and jury reflects the diversity of the population,” the petition said.
Jay-Z, 48, is famous for songs including Hard Knock Life, 99 Challenges and Big Pimpin.
A native of Brooklyn, he received 21 Grammy Awards, most recently in 2015 for Best R & B Song and Best R & B Performance for Drunk in Love with his wife, pop star Beyonce.
In May, a federal judge ordered him to respond to the agenda of the US Securities and Exchange Commission related to the sale of Rocawear.
SEC said it was looking for answers from Iconix and wanted to ask Jay-Z about his personal involvement in the brand. (Reporting by Brendan Pearson in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis)