January 12, 2012

The Velvets sue the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts: hands off of the banana

The banana

The Velvet Underground have sued the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to stop using the iconic banana for commercial purposes such as iPad covers and such. From Pitchfork:

The Velvet Underground today sued the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, as the New York Post reports. Lou Reed and John Cale have accused the organization of illegally using Warhol's banana image from the cover of their album The Velvet Underground & Nico on iPad accessories, like cases and protective sleeves.

The suit filed in Manhattan federal court accuses the foundation, which was founded after Warhol's death in 1987, of trying to "deceive the public" into thinking the Velvet Underground offered "sponsorship or approval" of the products. The band is seeking unspecified damages.

Members of the public, and particularly those who listen to rock music, immediately recognize the banana design as the symbol of the Velvet Underground," the filing states, according to the Post. "It is not merely the graphic reproduction by Andy Warhol of a piece of fruit: it is the 'iconic' VU banana." As the Post points out, Warhol never copyrighted the design. The banana image itself was taken from an advertisement.

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