BRADENTON, Fla., April 9 (UPI) -- A judge has ordered musician Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, to pay $16.1 million to Sleek Audio for stealing their design for a set of headphones.
The headphone company sued Jackson more than a year ago, after the singer dropped out on a deal to market his own line of earphones with the company. According to Sleek Audio, Jackson's headphones "Sync by 50," which were launched after their dealer had fallen through, were “basically the same design, mechanically” as the model the rapper developed with them.
Jackson's lawyers claimed that “certain security lapses” allowed SMS Audio, the company that produced the headphones, to use the same technology Sleek planned to use for its headphones. However, the prosecution claimed that "there was no evidence presented by Jackson that such alleged lapses … resulted in any public disclosure of any trade secret or confidential information of Sleek."
The prosecution added that Jackson had used his knowledge of the headphone's design to create the similar model, thus stealing confidential information that was shared with him while he was a private client of Sleek Audio.
An email from Jackson's business manager Nicolee Martin was presented as evidence that the rapper's team was aware of what was happening.
“[Sleek] is onto us, LOL. They emailed and called … about the data,” Martin wrote in the email.
"Tell him something like, sorry, you just have to finish editing a video for 50 or something, we’ll get to it, LOL,” read on response from another one of Jackson's team members.
The judge presiding over the case decided to side with the prosecution and ordered Jackson to pay $11,693,247 in damages, plus $4,488,331 in attorney’s fees for a total payout of $16,181578.