Tyson Beckford has slammed Sean "Diddy" Combs with a lawsuit, citing breach of contract and trademark infringement. The male model is seeking $5 million in damages from both of Diddy's corporations: his record label, Bad Boy Entertainment, and his urban-fashion line, Sean John.
According to the suit, filed in New York's Federal District Court on August 19, Beckford claims he signed a $1.2 million contract with Sean John to lend his face and image to the company's advertising campaign. As part of that agreement, Beckford was to be issued four $300,000 payments. The lawsuit said Sean John came through with the first payment on time, but was short by half on the second, and that it took several months before the remainder of that payment came through. Beckford claims Sean John skimped on the third and fourth payments, which, in effect, rendered the contract null and void.
In a statement, Sean John representatives said: "While we don't generally comment on pending litigation, we feel this action against us is without merit. We plan on vigorously defending ourselves."
The suit claims several attempts were made by both Beckford, who has a trademark on his name, and his management team, to collect on the debt. Those attempts did not prove fruitful, however, and he was informed that the ads would be pulled instead. However, according to the suit, those ads continue to run in newspapers and magazines, and his visage still appears on Sean John's Web site. He was also featured on in-store displays in Macy's and on billboards as well, the suit reads.
"They had a contract that was in existence that was not honored, and in addition to that, my client's image was continually used to market, promote and sell clothing distributed and made by Sean John," said Beckford's lawyer, Kenneth Montgomery.
According to the suit, Beckford's image was continually used without his authorization, causing "irreparable commercial harm" to his standing as "a popular culture icon." The suit alleges that the illicit use of Beckford's face in the ads "improperly implies and falsely suggests that Tyson endorses, approves, sponsors or is affiliated with [the] Sean John brand apparel line."