SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – “As virtually any clown can attest, no one owns the idea of making a balloon dog, and the shape created by twisting a balloon into a dog-like form is part of the public domain,” a gallery says in trying to head off a lawsuit from artist Jeff Koons. The San Francisco gallery, Park Life, says Koons has demanded that it stop selling its “Balloon Dog Bookend.” Park Life says Koons has no copyright or intellectual rights to balloon animals just because he made a “Balloon Dog Structure.”
“Having been threatened with legal action, Park Life seeks a declaration from this court that the Balloon Dog Bookend does not infringe on any copyrights or other purported intellectual property owned by Koons, because any similarities between the Balloon Dog Bookend compared with the Balloon Dog Structure are driven by the wholly unprotectable idea of depicting the shape of a balloon dog in a solid form,” the gallery says in its federal complaint. “This unprotectable idea will yield elements that naturally follow from the idea of such a form that cannot give rise to a copyright claim.”
Park Life seeks declaratory judgment, “so that there will be no controversy clouding the right of Park Life or others to continue distributing the Balloon Dog Bookend products.”
Koons, who is 65 today, is famous for his sculptures of banal objects in shiny stainless steel. His “Hanging Heart” sculpture sold for $23.6 million at Sotheby’s in 2007, which was a record haul for a living artist. His “Balloon Flower” then sold for $25.7 million at Christie’s in London, in 2008, before art prices crashed in the worldwide recession.
Plaintiff Alexander & Song dba Park Life is represented by Jedediah Wakefield with Fenwick & West.