Category Archives: Uncategorized

Nasty Gal with a Thefty “Oops!”


From the “too good not to share” department: Taylor Swift wore an original Balmain design to some music industry awards event. Nasty Gal, who sells an “inspired” knock-off of this particular Balmain piece, posts that Swift is wearing “their” dress. Basically, Nasty Gal’s copy was so close to the original Balmain that even Nasty Gal couldn’t tell them apart. Of course, this is all perfectly legal in the United States (for now: link). And, this could be some very sneaky viral marketing, so reader beware:

A Walk in the Park



Today’s installment looks at a call that is closer than most. As our readers know, an idea is not protectable, but one’s expression of an idea (as “fixed” in a tangible medium, in other words, written or drawn) is as protectable as the day is long. Did Target/Wrangler nab the artist’s expression here, or only his idea? To make matters more interesting, remember that an original combination of basic elements can be protectable even if the basic elements are not.

-Attorney Scott ([email protected])



Wrangler is selling a rip of artist Ross Zietz’s work. He posted it on threadless some time back and now Target is selling the Wrangler rip. Take a look:





Enter Lawman?



Metallica, those icons of RAWK, have unleashed some brand new merch in support of their recent club tour. That merch, though, struck one reader as looking a tad too similar to his own artwork, which, coincidentally, he had submitted to Metallica through its merch agent, Tinman, for potential, compensated use. They apparently liked the artwork to a certain extent, but not enough to engage the artist, so they had someone else “interpret” the artist’s submission. Recall that one of an artist’s exclusive rights is the right to create “derivative” works, and to stop others from using your artwork as a basis for another work without your permission. But, the line delineating derivative works can be tough to draw with certainty.

Nowadays, revenues from merch are one of the primary sources of income for many rock ‘n’ rollers, and the artwork may drive sales as much or more than the band’s name. Is the below “interpretation” a fair and independent creation, or one where the “interpreting” designer sought and destroyed the original artist’s rights?

Below left is the artist’s original work, below right is the artwork used by Metallica.

-AttorneyScott ([email protected])


A Dog-gone Copy?



Today’s installment comes from across the pond. A UK retailer, Schuh, has apparently drawn from the artwork of ANNE was HERE to decorate its new slide sandals. The idea of putting a cute l’il pup on a sandal is not protectable, and anyone who wants to draw a dog can draw a dog and not run afoul of the law. But, ANNE was HERE’s artistic expression, her depiction of a dog, is protectable, and as such cannot be lawfully used by another without her permission. Did Schuh cross the line?

-Attorney Scott ([email protected])



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