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Artist Calls Frappuccino Campaign a Ripoff

MANHATTAN (CN) - From Paris to New Hampshire, kaleidoscopic new marketing by Starbucks infringes on an artist's work, the New Yorker claims in court.

Brooklyn-based Maya Hayuk says her distinctive and "very recognizable" style makes her murals and other pieces highly coveted in the art world.

Just this month, R&B star Usher posted a picture of Hayuk's recently completed mural in Rabat, Morocco, to his Instagram account, the June 23 federal complaint states.

Hayuk says she been commissioned to paint murals for everyone from Facebook to the city of Toronto, and that her licensees include Billabong, Microsoft and General Motors.

This past fall, the advertising agency 72andSunny contacted Hayuk about a campaign it was developing for Starbucks, according to the complaint.

Hayuk said she signed a nondisclosure agreement and thus cannot describe everything she needs to in the complaint against Starbucks and 72andSunny.

What she can say is that she declined the offer that Starbucks proposed about using her artwork for its Frappuccinos, but that "Starbucks brazenly created artwork that is substantially similar to one or more of Hayuk's copyrighted works and used the substantially similar art for the Frappuccino campaign."

"The scope and reach of the Frappuccino campaign is staggering," Hayuk says. "The infringing Frappuccino campaign artwork appears on both Starbucks' United States and international websites; on the Starbucks' Frappuccino website; on videos promoting various Frappuccino flavors; in print advertising; on product packaging; and in many, if not all, of Starbucks' over 21,000 retail locations in 66 countries."

With Starbucks having just launched the much-celebrated Mini Frappuccino, the company's campaign choices have "received significant media attention from publications including The Huffington Post, Time, and U.S. News & World Report," according to the complaint.

Hayuk notes that Frappuccino sales brought Starbucks $2 billion last year.

"Clearly, Starbucks is using the infringing Frappuccino/campaign artwork to gain significant financial benefit, all to Hayuk's detriment," the complaint states.

Noting that five pieces she created and copyrighted between 2009 and 2011 are at issue, Hayuk peppers her complaint with images of the artworks and of the allegedly infringing Starbucks campaign.

She created "Hands Across the Universe (Portrait of the Aura of Imam Bowie)" in 2009, and later that year "The Universe" and "The Universe II."

Hayuk created and copyrighted "Sexy Gazebo" in 2010 and "Kites #1" in 2011, according to the complaint.

Starbucks has the design on its website in every country, Hayuk says, including screenshots of sites for the U.S., Canada, Britain, France and Germany.

Hayuk has also spotted her work in video promotions for Frappuccinos and at Starbucks retail locations across the globe.

The artist wants an injunction, damages and a share of the profits that the defendants earned by infringing on her work.

She is represented by Aaron Silverstein with Saunders & Silverstein in Amesbury, Mass.

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