Telling a jury that no one is above the law just because they are famous, a lawyer representing a businessman urged a jury Friday to award millions of dollars in royalties to his client for pitching a line of celebrity-endorsed headphones to Dr. Dre and a record producer.
Plaintiff Steven Lamar is suing Dr. Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, Jimmy Iovine and Beats Electronics, saying he brought the idea for the Beats by Dre headphones to the defendants in 2006 after they were designed by Robert Brunner, a renowned industrial designer. Lamar is seeking more than $100 million.
“Beats is trying to make noise so loud it drowns out what you’re being asked to decide in this case,” plaintiff’s attorney Brian Melton told the Los Angeles Superior Court panel during his final argument in trial of Lamar’s suit. “There is nothing in the jury instructions to support the idea that you’re above the law if you’re famous.”
But defense attorney Arturo Gonzalez said the plain English of the contract showed Lamar was entitled royalties only for the original Beats model and not the later versions.
“They all agreed it was a one-product deal,” Gonzales said.
Not long after they first began working together, the parties had a dispute and both Dre and Iovine sued Lamar for breaching contract. They reached a settlement in which Lamar gave up his rights in exchange for a 4 percent royalty on every headphone sold.
After the settlement, Beats released new headphone models and began paying a 2 percent royalty to Brunner until sometime in 2014, when Beats bought out Brunner’s interest. Dre, now 53, and the 65-year-old Iovine later sold Beats to Apple for $3 billion.
The jury is being asked to decide whether Lamar is due royalties for the subsequent versions of Beats headphones or only the original model.
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