Rapper 6ix9ine is facing more legal troubles, this time over allegations that his name infringes the trademark rights of another artist who’s used the name “SIX9” since 2007.
In a complaint filed Wednesday (July 20) in Manhattan federal court, a South Carolina man named Warren Hamilton claimed that 6ix9ine (real name Daniel Hernandez) “injured and stifled” his career by adopting the similar name in 2017.
“Many rap and hip-hop consumers have erroneously accused and criticized Hamilton of stealing Hamilton’s SIX9 mark from Hernandez,” he wrote. “Many rap and hip-hop consumers have also mistakenly attended Hamilton’s live performance shows thinking that Hernandez was going to be performing [and] many music promoters and booking agents have refused to book live performance shows.”
Hamilton claims he’s used the SIX9 name since 2007, performing in venues across the country and with big-name artists like Lil Wayne. He says he’s released numerous albums and singles under the name, including as recently as January.
When 6ix9ine burst onto the scene with his viral hit “Gummo” in 2017, he used the name Tekashi69 – a reference to Japanese anime, according to a profile by Rolling Stone. But as time went by, he began using the shortened, stylized 6ix9ine.
In his lawsuit, Hamilton claims Hernandez began using the shortened version as an attempted rebrand after his well-publicized 2015 conviction on a felony count of “use of a child in a sexual performance” over an incident in which he posted a sex tape of a 13 year old girl.
Whatever 6ix9ine’s reasons for switching to it, Hamilton says he has priority to the name — and that 6ix9ine’s rival use of it violates federal trademark law.
“If a DJ on the radio or a playlist or podcast announces that this is a song by SIX9 or 6ix9ine, the average consumer doesn’t know by the announcement of the artist’s name if that song is going to be by Hamilton or Hernandez since each mark has the same exact pronunciation and meaning,” Hamilton’s lawyers wrote. “The same is true if a consumer saw a concert poster or heard an advertisement using the mark SIX9 or 6ix9ine.”
A rep for 6ix9ine did not immediately return a request for comment on Thursday.
Hamilton’s case isn’t the first time 6ix9ine has gotten into name-related hot water. Back in 2019, a Brooklyn-based Japanese tattoo artist named Takashi Matsuba filed a lawsuit that claimed the rapper stole his name and then defamed him by calling him a heroin addict in a documentary.
It’s also certainly not the first legal trouble for 6ix9ine. In addition to the child-sexual-performance conviction in 2015, the rapper pleaded guilty in 2019 to racketeering, firearms and drug trafficking charges related to a series of shootings and other assaults in New York City. Though he faced decades in prison, he was eventually sentenced to just two years after he cooperated heavily with prosecutors and testified against other members of the gang at the center of the case. He was released in 2020.
More recently, 6ix9ine was sued in April for allegedly reneging on a deal with a streaming music service called Streamusic. The company claimed it paid him $150,000 to play and promote two different concerts, but failed to do either.