Norm vs. McDonald’s

Norm is an acclaimed street and tatoo artist based in Los Angeles well known in the world for his unique signature “NORM” and for the original arrangements and coloration of lettering.

On March 25 he  filed a complaint in front of California Central District Court ( case number 2:2016cv02063 ) against McDonald’s alleging “blatant,  unlawful,  and pervasive  copying  and use of Plaintiff s  artwork,  name,  and  trademark  in  advertising  campaigns  around the world,  without  his consent“.

Norm assumes that McDonald’s “consciously decided  to paper  the  walls  of  its restaurants  around  the  world  with Norm’s name, artwork,  signature, trade name,  trademark,  and persona” and that McDonald’s  “installed, and continues  to  install,  without  permission,  unauthorized  copies,  photographs, and/or depictions of this work  as the wallpaper  in dozens of its McDonald’s  restaurants   in Europe  and Asia“. The work  of art at issue  in the litigation  is currently  on display  in Brooklyn, New York, 31 Bartlett Street, is titled “Norm Fire Escape on Bartlett” and registered with the United States Copyright Registration Office (see here).


(picture from the complaint)



(picture from

Norm assumes that “McDonald’s’ conduct has caused, is currently causing,and is substantially  likely  to continue to cause mistake and confusion in the minds of consumers,  as well  as to deceive them regarding  whether Norm  endorses, sponsors, or  is  in  any  way affiliated  with  McDonald’s.  In  reality, Norm  does  not endorse, sponsor, or affiliate with McDonald’s in any way”.

Norm explains the impact of the unauthorized use made by McDonald’s of his works assuming that sponsors and business partners could no longer do business with him due to his perceived affiliation with McDonald’s and he lists examples of contracts cancelled because sponsors and partners don’t want to associate themselves with an artist that displays his art in McDonald’s restaurants: “the projected value of all the relationship destroyed by McDonald’s unauthorized use of Norm’s work exceeds $ 10 millions“.

Norm alleges as a first claim Copyright Infringement, as a second claim Unfair Competition in violation of section 43 (a) of Lanham Act 15 U.S.C. 1125 (a), as a third claim Misappropriation of Likeness under Civil Code Section 3344, as a fourth claim False Advertising in violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 and seq.

*** ***

The story behind this case is a bit more complex and is described here , here and here (comment by Jake Dobkin).

McDonald’s basically used in Europe and Japan without authorization pictures taken from a book by Hugo Martinez with works by Norm, but also by Rev and Cost.It sounds that Hugo Martinez obtained compensation for the use of the photos.

But the case with the artists (at the moment only Norm) is actually in front of the court.

UPDATE – MAY 14 – The plaintiff filed on May, 5 a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal without prejudice.






Norm vs. McDonald’s

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