Graffiti artists sue Roberto Cavalli for using mural

27-08-2014

Graffiti artists sue Roberto Cavalli for using mural

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Three US graffiti artists have sued Roberto Cavalli for copyright infringement after the Italian fashion house featured their work on a range of clothing.

Parts of a San Francisco mural by Jason Williams (“Revok”), Victor Chapa (“Reyes”) and Jeffrey Rubin (“Steel”), which integrates the artists’ signatures, adorn more than 30 pieces in a collection of clothing and accessories released in March as part of Cavalli’s “mass-market” line Just Cavalli.

The mural was used without the artists’ authorisation or knowledge.

The artists have claimed for copyright infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin against Cavalli, as well as Amazon, department store Nordstrom and online shoe retailer Zappos for selling the range.

In the complaint, filed on Monday (August 25) at the US District Court for the Central District of California, they said: “If literal misappropriation was not bad enough, Cavalli sometimes chose to do its own painting over that of the artists’—superimposing the Just Cavalli name in spray-paint style as if [it] were part of the original work”.

Sometimes the brand would add a signature, it added, “creating the false impression that Roberto Cavalli himself was the artist.”

In June, the artists ordered Cavalli to stop using their art, but pieces were still available to buy online on the day of the filing.

The artists claim that their association with Cavalli will damage their reputations and careers: “To anyone who recognises their work, plaintiffs are now wide open to charges of ‘selling out’,” the complaint said.

They also accused Cavalli of diluting the distinctive quality of the trade dress, and of “diminish[ing] its ability to connote a single source of the plaintiffs’ respective work”. They said that Cavalli is committing, and continues to commit, unfair and fraudulent business acts.

The plaintiffs have asked for a jury trial, for a permanent injunction against Cavalli, and damages, including punitive damages.

Earlier this year, Cavalli sparked fury among Sufi Muslims when it used a sacred Islamic symbol in a promotional campaign.

Cavalli did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

copyright infringement, Roberto Cavalli, Just Cavalli, graffiti, fashion