Last week, Roger Ladouceur, a tattoo artist, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Macado’s Inc. According to the complaint, Ladouceur is the artist and creator of the “I Am Not a Monster” tattoo, which contains a green Frankenstein character wearing a monocle. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the two images.
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Ladouceur alleges that Macado’s took an identical or similar image and used it on glassware and printed materials in Macado’s restaurant, on uniforms worn by its servers, and on its Facebook page advertising a Halloween party. Ladouceur is seeking an injunction and damages for the infringement, and an order requiring that Macado’s destroy all remaining items bearing the image. Notably, the complaint alleges that Ladouceur notified Macado’s of his objection to the use of the image last year, but the image was included once again in the restaurant’s 2015 Halloween marketing. Ladouceur is seeking an award of all those profits of Defendants attributable to their use of the Tattoo, including profits from the sale of food, drink and merchandise during and through the entire 2014 and 2015 Halloween seasons.
TIP: Courts have regularly held that tattoos are copyrightable “works” and are afforded protection under federal law. Companies should use caution when using images that are similar to or based on unique tattoos in their advertising and other promotional materials.