A Brooklyn Street artist who uses the name “Rime” has filed a copyright infringement suit against designer Jeremy Scott and Moschino, the Italian clothing company Scott works for, claiming that a Moschino dress worn by singer Katy Perry infringes Rime’s copyright.

Rime (Joseph Tierney), a high-profile artist whose work has appeared in leading museums and galleries, created a mural called “Vandal Eyes” for a Detroit property owner in 2012.

Moschino’s Fall/Winter 2015 fashion collection includes graffiti-inspired items, such as the dress, worn by Katy Perry that Rime claims copies his “Vandal Eyes” mural.

The complaint also alleges unfair competition and misappropriation stating that the designer and fashion house superimposed their own brand names in spray-paint style “as if part of the original work.”

Perry wore the graffiti-themed dress to the glamorous Metropolitan Museum of Art “Met Gala” earlier this year. She and the designer also arrived at the event in a spray-painted Rolls Royce and brandished “Moschino branded cans of fake spray paint during the event.”

Worst-Dressed

The theme for the Gala was based on an exhibition of Chinese art, and Perry ended up on some “worst dressed” lists for violating the theme with her dress.

Rime claimed that in addition to exploiting his art without his permission, the defendants also damaged his credibility as an artist “by inclusion in such a crass and commercial publicity stunt.”

Rime chooses commercial projects carefully stating, “nothing is more antithetical to the outsider ‘street cred” that is essential to graffiti artists than association with European chic, luxury, and glamour – of which Moschino is the epitome.”  Among these projects are a reinterpretation of Mickey Mouse for Disney and shoe design for Converse and Adidas.

The case is Tierney v. Moschino.

Takeaway

Graffiti art is no less “real” art than works created by more traditional means and is similarly protected by copyright law.

A number of commercial ventures such as Italian designer Roberto Cavalli, have been sued for using reproductions or versions of street art without the creators’ authorization.

If you wish to make use of such art for commercial purposes, it’s wise to consult an intellectual property lawyer about obtaining a proper license.

About Us

Leech Tishman’s Intellectual Property Group is based in Pasadena, California with a team of highly-regarded legal professionals with prosecution and litigation expertise in the fields of patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets.

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Photo Attribution: “Katy Perry–Zenith Paris” by oouinouin from Nanterre, France – http://www.flickr.com/photos/oouinouin/5512330507/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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