Diddy - or didn't 'e?

Some folk laugh at the practice of continental legal systems to give their court cases numbers rather than names - but it actually seems a good idea when you come across a High Court for England and Wales decision with a name like Richard Dearlove (trading and professionally known as "Diddy") v Sean Combs (trading and professionally known as "Sean 'Puffy' Combs", Puffy" and "P. Diddy") [2007] EWHC 375 (Ch). This mouthful, in more ways than one, was decided in the Chancery Division on Wednesday 28 February by Mr Justice Kitchin. The full text of this decision can be read and enjoyed on BAILII.

This dispute was between British DJ Richard “Diddy” Dearlove, a club DJ best known for remixing Blondie’s hits, and self-proclaimed “King of bling” Sean Combs (above). It follows earlier High Court litigation (noted here by the IPKat), these being passing-off proceedings in which Dearlove established his exclusive entitlement to be known as "Diddy", the name under which he had been working since 1992. Following this decision the disputing Diddies entered into an agreement that specified the manner in which Combs could refer to himself. By this agreement
"1. Mr Combs undertakes, whether acting by himself, his employees, his agents, or otherwise however, from doing the following acts or any of them within the United Kingdom, that is to say:
1. 1 advertising, offering or providing, or causing/procuring others to advertise, offer or provide any goods and services not being the Claimant's goods and services as a remixer, producer, songwriter, recording artist and DJ under or with reference to the word "Diddy"; or
1. 2 otherwise passing off or attempting to pass off and/or enabling and/or assisting and/or causing and/or procuring others to pass off or to attempt to pass off any goods and services not of the Claimants, as identified in 1. 1, as the same as or for goods and services connected or associated with the Claimant.
2. For the avoidance of doubt, the Defendant's professional name "P Diddy" is not affected by this undertaking.
3. The Defendant undertakes to remove from the United Kingdom all materials or articles that are in the possession, custody, power or control of the Defendant, the use of which would contravene the foregoing undertaking".
In Wednesday's ruling, Kitchin J concluded that Combs had breached that agreement by advertising himself as Diddy in 'The Future', a track on the album Press Play, but that the other allegations of breach of the agreement failed. Said the judge at paragraph 55:
"I have reached the conclusion that the songs fall into two categories. The first comprises only one song, "The Future". The second verse refers to Mr Combs as "Diddy" as he invites the listener to "mainline this new Diddy heroin". Mr Combs expressly refers to itunes and asks the listener to "download me in every resident". He refers to his CD as "my CD's in 3-D holograms" and finally refers to his shows with the words "the live show's a hard act to follow man". I see this as straightforward advertisement by Mr Combs of his CD, his songs which can be downloaded from itunes and his live shows, all under and by reference to the word "Diddy". The listener will understand he is being encouraged to buy the "Press Play" CD, to download the songs and that the live show is an event well worth attending. I am confirmed in this view by the evidence of Mr Woods that performers such as Mr Combs are making increasing use of lyrics to advertise goods and services in which they have a commercial interest".
Neat article on the case from The Times Online (thanks, James Heath, for the link), with some fun links to other Diddies
Diddy - or didn't 'e? Diddy  -  or didn't 'e? Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, March 02, 2007 Rating: 5


  1. Actually the case is more interesting than that. There's a discussion of when internet use constitutes use in the UK, and also when use on MySpace and YouTube sites constitute UK use.

  2. Depends what you mean by "interesting". The judge cuts and pastes the existing law and applies the facts to it...

  3. Interesting decision from Justice D. Kitty...

  4. Sorry, anonymous - it's taken me almost a week to work out what you meant by "Justice D. Kitty". The penny doesn't usually take so long to drop. It's quite funny, really ...


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