Drake and 21 Savage have taken down the fake Vogue cover story following a lawsuit from publisher Condé Nast. The rappers have “voluntarily ceased and desisted” from all uses of the faux cover and trademark, including all public displays of the fake cover online and any physical copies, Billboard reports.
Filed on Thursday, the new document notes that the artists agreed to take down the image in order to “to avoid unnecessary cost and expense” and that they still plan to fight the case. The filing also states Drake and 21 Savage were not “conceding any liability” or “wrongdoing” in the matter.
In a ruling on Nov. 10 (obtained by Billboard), a judge ruled in favor of Vogue publisher Condé Nast, issuing a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against the two rappers. The judge found that Condé Nast owned “valid and incontestable” trademarks for Vogue and its logo and that Drake, 21 Savage, and the communications firm Hiltzik Strategies “created and disseminated” counterfeit images of a Vogue cover, as well as a reproduction of full issue, without the magazine’s authorization.
“Condé Nast has a likelihood of success on its claims for federal and common law trademark infringement, false designation of origin and unfair competition, false endorsement, dilution, [and] false advertising,” the ruling states. The judge also said Drake and 21’s faux Vogue was “confusing consumers about the origin, sponsorship, or approval” of the magazine, “misleading consumers to believe that these are genuine and authentic materials associated Condé Nast and Vogue.”
A lawyer for Drake and 21 Savage did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment. Hiltzik Strategies declined to comment. A lawyer for Condé Nast also did not immediately return a request for comment.
Drake and 21 Savage had been on a tear promoting their collaborative album Her Loss with a series of stunts. The duo faked a Saturday Night Live performance and performed in what appeared to be a gold bar for a faux Colors x Studios promotion. Their initial promotion, though — a doctored Vogue cover — led to a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by the magazine’s owner Advance Magazine Publishers Inc., also known as Condé Nast.
In the lawsuit, obtained by Rolling Stone, Condé Nast called the duo’s promotional stunt a “deceptive campaign” that was not authorized by the company. The fake Vogue association included posters and distribution of “a counterfeit issue of Vogue” in large cities across North America.
The suit accuses the rappers of deliberately mimicking rollouts the magazine uses in its own promotional campaigns to appear authentic and added that the rappers’ social media accounts contained “explicitly false statements: ‘Me and my brother on newsstands tomorrow!! Thanks @voguemagazine and Anna Wintour for the love and support on this historic moment. Her Loss Nov 4th.’”
However, per the complaint, Vogue and its editor-in-chief Wintour “have had no involvement in Her Loss or its promotion, and have not endorsed it in any way. Nor did Condé Nast authorize, much less support, the creation and widespread dissemination of a counterfeit issue of Vogue, or a counterfeit version of perhaps one of the most carefully curated covers in all of the publication business in service of promoting Defendants’ new album.“
“The confusion among the public is unmistakable,” the complaint further states, citing a number of media outlets who picked up the story as real and subsequent user comments believing it to be a real cover.
At the time of the lawsuit was filed, Larry Stein, a lawyer for the defendants, declined Rolling Stone’s request for comment on Tuesday having not yet reviewed the complaint. Hiltzik Strategies LLC, also named as a defendant in the suit alongside Drake and 21 Savage, declined Rolling Stone’s request for comment.
Condé Nast is seeking a minimum of $4 million in damages. It further seeks punitive damages alongside ending any trademark infringement.
This story was updated 11/10/22 at 12:58 p.m. ET with the judge’s ruling.