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Dr. Dre versus Dr. Drai: Legendary rap icon loses trademark battle to gynecologist

Hip-hop mogul Dr. Dre lost a trademark dispute against gynecologist Dr. Drai on May 3. (Video: Amber Ferguson/The Washington Post)
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Dr. Dre. Dr. Drai. While the names look similar and are pronounced the same way (long “a”), they belong to two very different people.

The first “doctor” is known for the rap album “The Chronic.” The other is on the cover of books such as “20 Things You May Not Know About the Vagina.”

Dr. Dre is the stage name of rapper and producer Andre Young, considered the “single most influential producer in hip-hop history.” He’s credited with discovering rap icons such as Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent.

While he may be the lesser known of the pair, Dr. Drai, whose real name is Draion M. Burch, is not an up-and-coming hip-hop star or even a musician. He’s a Pennsylvania-based gynecologist and media personality. On his website, Burch touts himself as “One of America’s Top Women’s Health Experts.”

Given their divergent careers, it might seem hard to fathom that anyone could get the two mixed up. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office would agree.

Last week, the office ended a years-long legal fight between the rapper and the practicing doctor, dismissing a case lodged by Dr. Dre, who argued the similar monikers would cause “confusion” among consumers. The ruling said the rapper failed to show people would be misled by Burch’s Dr. Drai branding and purchase his products thinking they were Dr. Dre’s.

Keep in mind, Dr. Dre is associated with hip-hop music and headphones. Dr. Drai hosts sex education classes for adults and teens, and is featured on webinars titled, “What Your Mama Didn’t Tell You About Making Babies.”

The battle over the names began in 2015 when Burch submitted applications to trademark “Dr. Drai” and “Doctor Drai OBGYN and Media Personality.” His intention was to use the brand on audio books and seminars, the ruling said.

In the ruling, Dr. Dre claims his name is “sufficiently related” to the types of products and services Burch offers, which include “MP3 files, magazines, audio books, a series of books and other types of public performance.” These services are associated with the entertainment industry in which he is recognized, he said.

In response to the cease and desist letter he received from the rapper, Burch said he was “appalled how someone would think I wanted to be them.”

“I was hurt that someone was attacking me in my position as being a doctor,” he said, adding that he, unlike the rapper, earned the right to be called a doctor.

According to documents, Burch said he chose to go by Dr. Drai because “That’s my name.”

“When I became a physician and I graduated from medical school, I became Dr. Drai, obviously because I’m actually a physician.”

Burch argued people are unlikely to confuse his services and products with the rapper’s, because Dr. Dre “is not a medical doctor nor is he qualified to provide any type of medical services of sell products specifically in the medical or healthcare industry.”

Dr. Dre also objected on the grounds that Burch intended to use Dr. Drai to “trade on the goodwill generated by” his already famous name. However, the gynecologist said being associated with the rapper’s brand would be more likely to harm his practice rather than help.

Burch said the rapper is known for “misogyny and homophobic things,” citing some lyrics and songs as examples.

“And being part of the LGBT community, that’s when I said, you know, ‘I cannot be associated with that,’ ” he said. “And being an OB-GYN, I cannot be associated with anyone that has any kind of misogynistic speech, because it’s a bad reflection on me as a doctor.”

Sorry, Dr. Dre, looks as though the real doctor is in.

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