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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bong Artist Vindicated After T-Shirt Buzz Kill

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A federal judge ruled a clothing designer ripped off illustrations of marijuana bongs from an instructional bong-building guide.

Author and illustrator Randy Stratton claimed Upper Playground obtained a copy of his book "Build This Bong: Instructions and Diagrams for 40 Bongs, Pipes and Hookahs," and instructed a designer to use those designs in an Upper Playground T-shirt.

The exhibits reveal several of Stratton's bong designs on the shirt, including the "Apple Bong," the "Vaporizer" and the "Acrylic Hookah."

Stratton said Upper Playground continued to distribute the shirt even after Stratton's attorneys sent them a letter stating that the design infringed on Stratton's illustrations.

"Plaintiff wisely does not claim that he invented bongs, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez wrote. "Instead, plaintiff only claims that his depictions of various bongs are original and his own." (Parentheses in original.)

Though Stratton did not seek and cannot receive copyright protection for the process of making a bong, Gutierrez found that the artist is entitled to seek legal remedies from those "who reproduce, verbatim, the original illustrations he created depicting those bongs."

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