BEAUFORT, S.C. (CN) - A prominent nature photographer claims Wal-Mart swiped a copyrighted photo of a great white shark from his website and used it to make a popular swimsuit, and refuses to stop selling it despite being put on notice.
Leroy French Sr., has worked as an underwater photographer for decades. His work as appeared in National Geographic, Life, and elsewhere, he says, and his movie work has won awards from the San Francisco Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival, and the International Underwater Film Festival, among others.
French displays his work on his website, www.leroyfrench.com.
French claims Wal-Mart and co-defendants Iconix Brand Group and Studio Ray swiped a close-up photo of a great white shark he took while diving off Isla de Guadalupe, Mexico in 2007.
"Defendants have each played an integral role in the development, manufacture, marketing, distribution and/or sale of an Ocean Pacific shark-themed bathing suit illegally using the photograph without any license, permission or payment," French says.
"Defendants accessed the photograph, and other original works of other individuals, through the Internet. Through these actions, defendants violated plaintiff's exclusive copyright in the photo and committed copyright under federal law."
French says he demanded in August that the defendants cease and desist. "However, defendants have refused to cease their infringing activities. Specifically, Wal-Mart, after receiving notice, continued to market and sell the OP suit."
French seeks damages, injunctive relief, impounding of records documenting the bathing suit's manufacture, distribution and sale, and destruction of the unsold suits.
He is represented by Ellis Lesemann with Harvey & Vallini of Mount Pleasant, S.C.
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