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Failed Cologne Partnership Made Jay-z $4.5m In Unpaid Royalties



A fragrance company called Parlux sued Jay-Z after their cologne endorsement deal collapsed, and the rapper won 4.5 million in royalties Thursday (Feb. 24).


A New York state appeals court went even further after a Manhattan jury cleared superstar Will Smith of wrongdoing and potentially $67 million in damages, ruling that it was Parlux that should pay. The fragrance brand is owed past royalties, as well as interest, for sales of the product that occurred after the deal soured.


Justice John Higgitt of the New York Appellate Division wrote, "The record is clear: Parlux sold licensed products after July 31, 2015, but failed to pay royalties on those sales."


The ruling follows 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.


A lawsuit filed by the company accuses the rapper and his company S. Carter Enterprises of failing to promote the brand, breaching his contract, and dooming the product to failure. Despite numerous missteps by Parlux, Jay-Z countersued, claiming he had fulfilled his obligations and that Parlux still owed him money.


Last fall, the star himself testified for three weeks during which he verbally sparred with opposing attorneys and threatened to file a countersuit. Ultimately, jurors sided with Hov, finding that Parlux had no claim.


Contrary to expectations, Thursday's ruling was not based on an appeal. Both sides appealed earlier in the litigation, challenging intermediate rulings issued by the judge overseeing the case. The new decision mostly rejected these challenges, but held that Jay-Z was "right" when he claimed he was owed $4.5 million in royalties after July 31, 2015.


An appeal could still be filed. The case remains before the trial court where Parlux is requesting a new trial and a set aside of the verdict. After the judge rules on those motions, the case could be sent back to an appeals court.


Alex Spiro, Jay-Z's attorney with the law firm Quinn Emmanuel, declined to comment on the decision. In response to a request for comment on Thursday evening, Parlux's lawyer, Anthony J. Viola, of Mintz Levin, declined to comment.