Zen and the Art of Copyright Infringement

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Today’s submission alleges a theft of hand. Buddha’s hand, to be exact. The law is pretty clear that one shouldn’t palm off the art of others, even if the palm itself is the art, and the palming-off is in the guise of “inspiration.”

See below and ask yourself: “What would Buddha do?”

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Dear YTWWN:

A company, Artistic Revolt, based in Atlanta (http://www.art3k.com/) is selling cliche clothing which is stealing art from CRYPTIK who is based in Los Angeles (www.cryptik.com). They made tshirts from CRYPTIK’s well known ‘Palm of Buddha’ piece and they began selling it on Karmaloop. The link on Karmaloop has since come down due to public pressure online, but Artistic Revolt refuses to acknowledge its fraudulent business practices. They also have plans to steal more images from another street artist EDDIE COLLA based in San Francisco, according to the business partners Instagram account.

Virgin Blak rips off Death/Traitors

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Typical t-shirt motifs like skulls and birds and the like are subject to strong copyright protection so long as they are not technical depictions of the naturally-occurring thing (such as a very accurate depiction of a skull that looks like the skull that is actually holding your brains in right now). In the below example, it appears as if someone liked someone else’s motif, and helped themselves.

A twist in this case is that the alleged offender is overseas. With the internet being what it is and how it is, a dude with a dial-up connection in some remote island in Micronesia can just as easily knock you off as the guy trawling the aisles of the latest trade show with his spy camera. What the internet taketh, it also giveth back, though – the reader (it is assumed) was able to identify the alleged knock-off artist after the KOA posted the infringing item online.

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Dear YTWWN:


I run an independent clothing label called Death/Traitors, and was shocked to have someone email me a link to South Korean label Virgin Blak. The photo speaks for itself, they didn’t even bother to take my brand name off the stolen design!!!!!

From the Files of AttorneyScott – Barney’s Turns to the Blogosphere for the Perfect Ad

AttorneyAnnie here, bringing you another installment of possible content thievery from AttorneyScott’s files. Here we go.

You may have heard about the new designer shoe floor at Barney’s–men’s and women’s designer shoes on the same floor for the first time in Madison Avenue history! Or something like that. Barney’s has been heavily promoting this new shoe floor with a lovely marketing campaign called “Perfect Pairs,” complete with a “Perfect Pairs: Love Letters” campaign on the Barney’s blog and proceeds from pricey shoe sales going to the Human Rights Campaign and its Americans for Marriage Equality Program.  It’s actually quite adorable. And admirable.

What’s also adorable–but possibly not as admirable–is Barneys’ new Perfect Pairs logo, shown above. Linear illustration, two shoes back to back, a classic man’s shoe, a classic woman’s pump, set directly above a line of text, the choice of words.

And what’s this, above? This is the at least two-year-old logo of The Perfect Pairing–a street style Tumblr created by a New Yorker with an eye for fabulous footwear. Linear illustration, two shoes back to back, a classic man’s shoe, a classic woman’s pump, set directly above a line of text, the choice of words.  Maybe it’s pure coincidence?

If you have any questions or comments about the above matter, please feel free to email [email protected]

…Lost and Adrift in a Sea of Infringement?

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Today’s entry arrives by sea, from my hometown of Long Beach, California. In this saga of maritime misappropriation, the putative pirate is a well-known action sports brand who is alleged to have fallen for copyright infringement hook, line, and sinker.

From a legal standpoint, it is important to remember that copyright law does not protect fonts, no matter how stylized the letters. Trademark law, however, will provide protection for the stylized depiction of a word if that stylized depiction is associated with a certain brand by consumers.

In this case, however, it appears that not only has the font been misappropriated, but also the composition and design elements of the work at issue, which may be subject to copyright protection. Is there enough taken to be a violation of the law or a violation of the artists’ moral code?

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Dear YTWWN;

In April 2011, Port opened it’s doors in Long Beach, CA—an unorthodox group of minds, set out to deliver our lifestyle through our product, creativity and store. A clothing boutique, selling small and larger brands as well as Port branded product with its wildly popular and successful logo.

The popularity of the logo led to Port branded product being the best selling product for the store.

Port Long Beach

With the brand, store and recognition on the rise, Port was delivered a despicable blow, when surfboard and clothing manufacture …Lost released an all but familiar tee shirt graphic, first spotted on the online retailer Swell, in May 2012. Now a tank top version of the stolen art is on Pacific Sunwear’s site.

When put side-by-side, the gross neglect of trademark infringement is clear. The designer that presented this as an option should be ashamed of themselves. It is one thing to have reference, but to so blatantly rip off another’s work is a different story.

Port vs …Lost

The theft of intellectual property has left us baffled. Even more disgraceful is the fact that an established surf brand would steal from its own. The store is rooted in skate and surf culture. Everyone involved with Port is a steward of the action sports industry—the owners, art director, artists, employees and friends of the store. From shoe designers to marketing directors, we are all part of the industry we love.

It is so unfortunate that one of our own would stoop to a level so low, to blatantly steal and take potential profits from a small, independent shop.

It might be true that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but this flattery is just a cloak for theft and brand confusion.

 

 

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