The story itself is rather simple. Graffiti artist Joseph Tierney a/k/a “Rime,” paints a mural on the broad side of a Detroit building in 2012.  He calls it “Vandal Eyes.”

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Vandal Eyes by Rime

Three years later, a reproduction of Vandal Eyes—with a few variations—appears on a gown worn by Gigi Hadid on the Moschino runway in Milan during Fall/Winter 2015 Fashion Week.  Several other items in the “Graffiti Line” include the reproduction.

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Gigi Hadid in the “Graffiti Gown”

Several months after that, Katy Perry wears the gown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2015 Met Gala in New York. Moschino Creative Director, Jeremy Scott, also attends the Met Gala wearing a matching jacket.

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Katy Perry in the Graffiti Gown at the 2015 Met Gala with Moschino Creative Director, Jeremy Scott, in a matching jacket

Both Rime and Moschino are happy to receive worldwide attention for their art, and everyone walks away happy, right? Well, no.  This is a blog about fashion law and litigation, after all.

Rime filed a lawsuit in California federal court in August alleging violations of both federal and California law.  According to Rime, the Graffiti Line, the Graffiti Gown and Moschino’s “crass and commercial publicity stunt” in engaging Perry to wear the gown to the Met Gala exploited his art and compromised his credibility as a graffiti artist.  Specifically, Rime alleges that Perry made a number of “worst dressed” lists because of the “calculated inappropriateness of the outfit to the occasion.”  Moschino and Scott “deliberately and obnoxiously disobeyed a recommended dress code” when they dressed Perry in the Graffiti Gown in order to create media buzz for the brand.

Rime, according to his complaint, was damaged by this conduct.  Rime “generally eschews connections to consumerism, except in carefully selected instances. . . [because] nothing is more antithetical to the outsider ‘street cred’ that is essential to graffiti artists than association with European chic, luxury and glamour—of which Moschino is the epitome.”  As a result of the Graffiti Line and the Graffiti Gown, Rime “is now wide open to charges of ‘selling out’.”

  • Rime alleges the following seven causes of action against Moschino and Scott:
  • Copyright Infringement violating the Copyright Acts of 1909 and 1976;
  • Removal and/or Alteration of Copyright Management Information violating 17 U.S.C. § 1202 (Rime alleges that Moschino and Scott added their own graphic design including, among other things, the name “Moschino” over his original design);
  • Unfair Competition violating the Lanham Act (Rime alleges that certain items in the Graffiti Line include his trade name, a violation a federal trademark law);
  • Unfair, Fraudulent, and Deceptive Business Practices violating the California Business and Professions Code;
  • Unfair Competition violating California common law;
  • Appropriation of Name and Likeness violating the California Civil Code; and
  • Negligence.

The lawsuit seeks current and future monetary damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, disgorgement of proceeds, restitution, injunctions, and recall and destruction of all infringing products.

For more information, see Tierney v. Moschino S.P.A, et al, Case No. 2:15-cv-05900, In the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division.