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 beautifuldecay.com)
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.
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.