It’s bad enough to lose your mojo and get benched in favor of the ancient Mike Lowell, but now David Ortiz has another problem to deal with: Jay-Z.
The entertainment mogul and his business partner Juan Perez are suing the Red Sox slugger for trading on their 40/40 nightclub’s name by opening a club called Forty-Forty in Santo Domingo. According to a report by the Associated Press earlier this week, the suit seeks more than $5 million in damages.
In the wake of the news, I’ve heard a number of people slam Jay-Z for being greedy; others have berated David Ortiz for being a goniff. I tend to side with the latter group. Though Jay-Z is a cunning and ruthless businessman, I think he’s clearly in the right in this case. Jay-Z’s name is one of the most valuable celebrity brands out there, earning him a slew of seven-figure endorsement deals over the years.
His 40/40 Club in Manhattan is a venture in which Jay-Z has invested significant capital — both financial and lyrical — and thanks to his efforts, he and his partners have been expanding their empire in recent years. In addition to opening additional locations in the U.S., they’ve licensed the 40/40 name to operators in Tokyo and Macau. Those clubs aren’t open yet, but you can bet Jay-Z received a hefty sum for the rights to use his club’s name.
David Ortiz didn’t come up with the name of his club by accident — the suit filed in Manhattan federal court notes that Ortiz had been to Jay-Z’s 40/40 many times. If he’s going to use the same name for his club, he should pay Jay-Z the same amount that the club operators in Macau and Tokyo are paying, though that sum is likely less than $5 million.
My guess is that Ortiz will settle for a few million dollars, and Jay-Z will gain a begrudging licensee for his 40/40 chain. No matter what happens, the brouhaha should spark interest in both clubs — any publicity is good publicity.