Monday, September 25, 2023
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Artist Says McDonald’s Ripped Off ‘Norm’

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Tattoo and street artist Eric Rosenbaum aka Norm, says in a federal lawsuit that he isn't lovin' McDonald's use of his copyrighted artwork without his permission, and is out more than $10 million.

Rosenbaum's lawsuit, filed in Federal Court in Los Angeles on Friday, says McDonald's is engaged in "blatant, unlawful, and pervasive copying and use" of his copyrighted "Norm" artwork at restaurants in Europe and Asia.

Because of his global fame, Rosenbaum says he routinely is involved in lucrative sponsorships with companies and others that want to "capitalize on his artwork, celebrity and persona."

"McDonald's, however, sought to capitalize, and did capitalize, on Norm's artwork and celebrity without his consent or permission, and consciously decided to paper the walls of its restaurants around the world with Norm's name, artwork, signature, trade name, trademark and persona," he says in his 18-page lawsuit.

Rosenbaum describes himself as an "acclaimed street and tattoo artist" and says he is "known around the world by and for his unique signature, 'Norm,' as well as the distinct arrangements and coloration of original lettering" in his tattoos and street art.

He says he "cultivated a successful brand and business" using the trade names "Norm" and "Norm Will Rise" for his Los Angeles-area tattoo studios, and travels the world attending conventions and special engagements, in which he creates street art and tattoos.

He also sells a line of tattoo equipment under the Norm brand.

Beginning in 2015, McDonald's installed and continues to install copies, photographs and depictions of his artwork in dozens of McDonald's restaurants in Europe and Asia without Rosenbaum's permission, according to the complaint. Rosenbaum says consumers will think he endorses McDonald's when he doesn't.

Los Angeles attorney Steven Shuman, of Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack, says McDonald's unlicensed use of the Norm works diminishes that value of Rosenbaum's copyrighted works and infringes upon his intellectual property rights, including trade name and trade use of the Norm brand.

Shuman said McDonald's also deprives Rosenbaum of prospective contracts and profits through their unlicensed use of his copyrighted works.

Among Rosenbaum's copyrighted artworks that McDonald's uses is his "Norm Fire Escape on Bartlett" piece, which depicts "Norm" painted on the boarded-up exterior and a New York City building with a fire escape, Rosenbaum says in his complaint.

He says the unlicensed use of that work has cost him several lucrative contracts with other companies and estimates the value of McDonald's unlicensed use and the lost contracts at more than $10 million.

Rosenbaum seeks an injunction against continued use of his artwork, exemplary, statutory, compensatory and general damages, plus legal costs and attorneys' fees, for copyright infringement, unfair competition, misappropriation of likeness and false advertising.

McDonald's did not respond to an email request for comment.

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