Last December a San Francisco gallery received a cease and desist letter from artist Jeff Koons asking that they stop selling bookends for allegedly violating Koons’ copyright, as detailed here. Los Angeles art patrons know Koons’ balloon dog sculptures as one such sculpture is part of Eli Broad’s collection and has been exhibited at LACMA.
As the blogosphere generally mocked Koons’ efforts to essentially claim that only he could sell items resembling balloon dogs, we can now report there is a happy ending and the gallery is now allowed to resume selling their bookends.
It is interesting to wonder if there would have been a different result had this situation not been so roundly criticized online. A pro bono lawyer even stepped in to file a lawsuit to assert the gallery’s rights.
Also, arguably Koons would have a more valid claim against products that looked more similar to Koons’ sculptures than the bookends here.
And of note, the manufacturer of Koons’ balloon dog sculptures has gone out of business due to the recession, perhaps shedding light on why Koons was seeking to monopolize the balloon dog business for himself.
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