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The Reason Dave Hester Once Sued A Famous Singer

Of all the outsized personalities on A&E's Storage Wars, Dave Hester might be the biggest. He's more than proven that he's worthy of his nickname, the Mogul. But much as Hester is not one to shy away from a bidding war, so too has he shown a willingness to say "YUUUP!" to court battles — including ones over that signature catchphrase.

After premiering in 2010, Storage Wars became a hit for A&E, and Hester became a reality TV star as a result. When he was fired from the show, he sued the network and Original Productions in 2012, and alleged he was wrongfully terminated for expressing concerns over the show being staged. But while that lawsuit gained headlines, Hester was already involved in another legal dispute with the rapper Trey Songz.

The "Heart Attack" singer sent a cease-and-desist letter to Hester in 2011, which demanded the bidder stop saying "YUUUP!" on the show and selling merchandise imprinted with the word. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the musician said "the catchphrase has been his 'signature sound' since at least 2009, but evidently, he failed to trademark it." 

Meanwhile, Hester had attempted to trademark the catchphrase three times, going back to May 2011. He successfully did so in September of the same year.

Hester decided to fight back against Songz

Hester filed a lawsuit in New York federal court against Songz — real name Tremaine Neverson — after receiving the C&D letter. He sought unspecified damages, and a court order against Songz to bar him from interfering with use of his trademark. The Storage Wars cast member likewise stated that his "YUUUP!" was distinct from the rapper's.

Hester's lawyers said the reality TV star's utterance is a "more monosyllabic sounding guttural auction bidding phrase ... meant to convey the meaning of 'yes,'" as opposed to Songz', which "resembles an animal-like or non-human squeal which begins with a distinct 'yeeee' sound before finishing with a squeal-like 'uuuup' sound."

It's the kind of stuff that keeps lawyers in business, especially because Songz was trying to trademark a sound, and doing so successfully "depends on the aural perception of the listener." Also, in an April 2012 countersuit, Songz said Hester's "YUUUP!" merchandise was "styled identically or virtually identically to Songz LLC's mark, displaying the mark YUUUP! in a sans serif font in all capital letters."

In the end, both Dave Hester and Trey Songz said "NOOOPE!" to the ongoing legal affair, and came to an out-of-court settlement in June 2012. It might not be as exciting of a conclusion as finding treasure in a Storage Wars auction, but Hester did live up to his nickname in his battle with the best-selling rapper.