Bloomberg News

Black Keys Rock Duo Sues Pizza Hut, Home Depot Over Songs

June 22, 2012

The Black Keys sued Home Depot Inc. (HD:US) and Yum Brands Inc. (YUM:US)’s Pizza Hut, alleging the companies used the rock duo’s songs in commercials without authorization.

Patrick Carney and Daniel Auerbach, known as the Black Keys, sued Home Depot for the unauthorized use of “Lonely Boy,” and sued Pizza Hut and its advertising company, Interpublic Group of Cos., over “Gold on the Ceiling,” in separate filings yesterday in federal court in Los Angeles.

The group said Pizza Hut and its ad agency created a commercial for a product called Cheesy Bites Pizza that “prominently features significant portions” of “Gold on the Ceiling.” Home Depot ran a commercial for its Ryobi brand of power tools that uses parts of “Lonely Boy,” the band said.

The use of the songs was “a brazen and improper effort to capitalize on plaintiffs’ hard-earned success,” lawyers for the Black Keys said in the complaints.

“We haven’t seen the complaint but we take intellectual property very seriously,” Stephen Holmes, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Home Depot, said in a telephone interview.

Chris Fuller, a spokesman for Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum Brands, referred a request for comment to Pizza Hut’s ad firm, the Martin Agency, a unit of Interpublic. Dean Jarrett of Richmond, Virginia-based Martin had no immediate comment. Tom Cunningham, a spokesman for New York-based Interpublic, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

Letters Sent

The band said in the lawsuits that letters were sent to Pizza Hut and Home Depot in May requesting that they stop showing the ads with the music.

“Lonely Boy” and “Gold on the Ceiling” are the first two singles from the Black Keys’ seventh album, “El Camino,” released in December on Nonesuch Records, a division of Warner Music Group. According to the complaint, “El Camino” has sold more than 800,000 copies so far. Auerbach plays guitars and Carney drums.

Also suing the companies is co-writer Brian Burton, known professionally as Danger Mouse. The plaintiffs asked for jury trials of the copyright-infringement suits.

The case are Auerbach v. Pizza Hut, 12-05385, and Auerbach v. Home Depot, 2:12-cv-05386, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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Companies Mentioned

  • HD
    (Home Depot Inc/The)
    • $91.74 USD
    • -1.14
    • -1.24%
  • YUM
    (Yum! Brands Inc)
    • $71.98 USD
    • -0.68
    • -0.94%
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