Lil Tay's father may be attempting to cash in on his Instagram-famous daughter by locking down the legal rights to her name, at least that's what Tay's mom believes.
Sources close to the pseudo-celebrity 11-year-old's mother, Angela Tian, tell The Blast she's looking to take her own legal action after her ex-husband quietly filed to secure merchandising rights under their daughter's name without her knowledge.
Just several months after obtaining custody of Tay, Christopher Hope filed two trademark applications covering everything Tay-related from clothing to music.
Our sources say Angela felt the move was "suspicious" and has contacted her attorney to fight the application. We're told Tian also reached out to Hope's attorney with a strongly-worded letter claiming Hope "hasn’t devoted anything to Lil Tays career but wants to own it." That attorney, interestingly, withdrew her representation of Hope "due to cyber harassment and cyber bullying issues" several days ago according to trademark records.
The Blast reached out to Hope, who insists he filed the trademarks to protect his daughter, not to take advantage of her situation. Hope called the allegations "ridiculous," adding "The trademark was filed to to protect Claire’s intellectual property rights. Her mom hasn’t done anything in terms of setting up corporate structure, reserving domains, getting management, agents, and accounting in place, registering with ASCAP/SOCAN etc., so I stepped in to make sure it was done."
Hope says all money made off the trademark will go right into Tay's pocket. "If anyone wants to 'cash in' it’s other people, not me," he says pointing the finger at Tian instead. "Ask Claire’s mom what happened to all the money she made while in LA earlier this year ... it’s gone, with nothing saved for Claire’s future." Hope says he's simply putting protections in place and "what happened before was a disaster and I’m not letting it happen again."
We're told Hope has already made moves to try and enforce the mark by firing off a cease and desist to Fullscreen Media, the company handling Tay's merchandising, demanding they stop all production and distribution or face legal action.
The war over the child's intellectual property comes amid another bitter battle: custody. Over the Summer following an explosive, controversial rise to Internet stardom under the supervision of her mother, Tay's online presence suddenly stopped. After months of radio silence, someone who claimed to have previously worked with Tay gained reactivated her Instagram account, posted a video of her crying and made a slew of allegations against Hope. It was also revealed the mysterious disappearance was actually a court order and Tay had been living with her father in Canada.
When the Blast spoke with Hope last month, he told us he supports Lil Tay following her dreams but thinks "she was given bad advice about many things earlier this year, and she was steered in the wrong direction by various people."
That's one thing both parents can agree on, apparently, because our source says Angela believes there were tons of hanger-ons who tried to take advantage of her daughter's fame.