Jeff Koons bites back at 'copies' of balloon dog
How much is that doggy in the window? If it's a shiny sculpture by the artist Jeff Koons, then they start at $7,000 [£4,400]; if it's a plastic bookend produced by Toronto manufacturer Imm-Living and sold in a San Francisco art gallery you're looking at a mere $30 [£19]. And therein lies a snowballing legal dispute.
Lawyers representing Koons filed cease-and-desist letters against the two firms before Christmas, claiming that their cheap bookends, which come in the shape of the dogs traditionally made from balloons by children's entertainers, were illegal copies of the pop artist's famous sculptures.
News of the lawsuit sparked a mixture of outrage and mirth. Outrage because the intellectual property claim means that Koons is trying to claim copyright over every balloon dog; and mirth because it smacks of hypocrisy.
Koons is, after all, one of the art world's most famous creative magpies (he has been sued for copyright violation four times, losing three of the cases). Almost all of his most famous work reappropriates items that were originally designed by someone else, such as inflatable toys, porcelain ornaments and gaudy greetings cards.
The owners of the San Francisco gallery, Park Life, have duly hit back at the expensive legal team assembled by Koons, filing their own, somewhat surreal, lawsuit in federal court this week. It seeks a summary judgement stating that it is impossible for anyone to copyright the canine shape.
"As virtually any clown can attest, no one owns the idea of making a balloon dog, and the shape created by twisting a balloon into a dog-like form is part of the public domain," says Park Life's counter-lawsuit. It notes that there are important differences between the bookends and the sculptures. For instance, theirs come only in matt colours; his are always shiny.
Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stuart Baggs dies: Apprentice star 'The Brand' found dead aged 27
- 2 As the world mourned the death of Cecil the lion, five endangered elephants were killed in Kenya
- 3 Amazon Prime - how to cancel: after Top Gear hiring, instructions on how to leave premium service
- 4 What is halal meat and why is it controversial?
- 5 Living in Spain and commuting to London 'cheaper than actually working in London'
Black Mass full trailer: Watch an unrecognisable Johnny Depp play notorious US gangster James 'Whitey' Bulger
Frank Ocean, where's that new album at?
Top Gear trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May heading to Amazon Prime for new car show
Benedict Cumberbatch has 1,480 lines in Hamlet - so what's the secret to actors' memory skills?
Jon Snow: Kit Harington spotted in Belfast where Game of Thrones season 6 is filming
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the UK Government is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'