Lip-smacking copyright suit confronts Pepsi

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The Independent Online

Lawyers acting for the estate of one of Britain's most celebrated celebrity photographers, Bob Carlos Clarke, who died last year, have picked a fight with the multinational bigwigs at Pepsi. They've decided to take legal action against the soft drinks company, claiming that their latest advert, which shows a young woman licking her lips, has directly ripped off Clarke's work The Lick/ Mouth, and are seeking hefty remuneration.

"It's quite clear for anyone to see that they've just completely copied Bob's photo," says a spokesman for the estate. "We want adequate financial compensation for infringing his copyright and we're prepared to fight this all the way."

Pepsi are sticking to their guns. In a written response, they claim their advertising hotshots had never seen Clarke's work, so the similarity is merely a coincidence.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Clarke's estate have begun drawing on photographic experts to offer their views.

Says one of them, Philippe Garner, the international head of photography at Christie's: "It's hard not to be reminded of Bob's photograph.

"While eroticised mouths are a universal subject, the treatment in this instance is so very close to Bob's picture – a picture surely familiar to every art director in the business – as to leave one wondering whether it was the source for the poster image."

The stars jostle for pole position

The acting fraternity is queuing up to join Ben Fogle and James Cracknell on their proposed trek to the South Pole.

The Hollywood eco-heartthrob Leonardo diCaprio has already expressed an interest, and now the booming British star Brian Blessed wants to get in on the act.

"I've been speaking with Brian recently as I've just taken over from him as president of the Council for National Parks, and he's mad keen to come," Fogle told me at a recent bash for the dyslexia charity Xtraordinary People.

"But he's just turned 70, so I'm not so sure. I've promised to climb a mountain with him instead."

Apropos teaming up with DiCaprio, Fogle said he's due to fly out to the United States in a fortnight.

"He's one of a few people James and I have thought about. We'll just have to see what happens."

Kylie the culture-vulture

The singer Ian Brown's unkind remarks about Kylie Minogue's brainpower won't be shared across London's theatreland.

Kylie – of whom Brown recently said "there's a load of great minds out there making music, and she's not one of them" – turns out to be quite the culture vulture.

This week, she's due to attend two West End opening nights. The first, Rent, directed by her best friend William Baker, opens this evening, and she's also requested tickets for Wednesday evening's performance of Christian Slater's new play Swimming With Sharks.

"She loves the theatre and actually goes quite a lot," says a spokesman. "It's normally just a case of when she gets time."

Near miss

The press office over at ITV went into overdrive on Friday morning after X-Factor judge Louis Walsh's appearance on the sofa on This Morning.

"Despite Sharon Osbourne's obvious unhappiness when Louis was fired, he claims he didn't miss her in return – just the show!!" read an excited press release. Later that day, at around 4'clock, and just as newspapers were approaching their early Saturday deadlines, a follow-up popped into newsdesk inboxes.

"Louis Walsh incorrectly stated that he 'didn't miss Sharon an awful lot' during an interview with Ruth and Phillip on today's This Morning. Louis meant to say that he 'did' miss her. Apologies for any inconvenience caused."

Cue sound of furious red-top news editors tearing up their pages.

Sculptor weighs in too early

Charles Saatchi's remarkably trim new figure has come about too late for the sculptor Robert Gordon McHary.

McHary is currently exhibiting a statue of the reclusive British art mogul, entitled HIM, at the Zoo art fair in Shoreditch, east London.

But since the first photograph of Saatchi since he underwent his recent slimming diet only appeared last week – he is said to have lost four stone – the statue's dimensions reflect him during his earlier and, shall we say, considerably porkier phase.

"Funnily enough, Saatchi has come to see it," says a Zoo insider.

"He didn't buy it, but, very charmingly, he told Robert he thought it was fantastic."