Teenpreneur Battles Snoop Dogg for Brand Name - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

snoopdogKristyn Heath, CEO of Passive Devices and BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s 2008 Teenpreneur of the Year, is in a David vs. Goliath battle as she fights rapper Snoop Dogg’s accusation that her invention SnoopTunes infringes on his trademark.

At the age of 14, Heath developed NoeStringAttached, a device that uses a branded technology called SnoopTunes to assist iPod users who want to share music lawfully while within the vicinity of other iPod users. The concept is based on the idea that users can “snoop” in on peers’ music. Heath also plans to develop technology to share other multimedia as well.

One year after Heath began the process to trademark SnoopTunes, lawyers representing the rapper, actor, and entrepreneur born Calvin Broadus filed a suit against the teen and her company in an effort to stop the proceedings. “I don’t see what he has to gain from it,” says Kristyn, now 18, adding that her technology has nothing to do with his music.

“Snoop Dogg says we are leveraging off of his fame,” says Allen Heath, Kristyn’s father, noting that Snoop Dogg’s name and persona was developed around a trademarked Peanuts comic character. “Our success came because Kristyn invented a unique product.” According to the elder Heath, Broadus’s team of lawyers agreed to allow them to use the term “snooping” instead but the lawyers changed their minds days after that agreement. “We made that offer only because we knew the history of trademark disputes with Snoop Dogg. When he comes after you, most people cannot handle the onslaught of the legal process. It is pretty intense.”

The company’s 2007 revenues were $30,000, and revenues for 2008 were expected to reach $100,000. Those projections were based on Passive Devices releasing the product on time, but now the company is behind in releasing a new proprietary device.

“We’ve spent way more than what a start-up should have to spend in legal fees, says Allen Heath. “It is not something we planned for. We’ve had to divert funds from development to continue the battle.”

As the Heath’s prepare to go to trial over the trademark, they see the learning experience as an opportunity to teach other teen entrepreneurs how big companies can operate against small ones.

Snoop Dogg’s attorneys have not responded to requests for a comment.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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