Clowns who dabble in balloon art are preparing for the next Jeff Koons lawsuit. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Ajay Tallam/Flickr)

Intellectual property rights refer to the exclusive rights granted to producers for creations of the mind, such as music, literature, logos, discoveries and more. This amounts to a copyright, trademark or similar agreement, depending upon the legal jurisdiction. Former commodities broker and current kitsch artist Jeff Koons can claim that his 10-foot-tall balloon dog statue, which has been exhibited in places like the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, is protected by intellectual property rights. This has enabled Koons to issue cease-and-desist letters to San Francisco-based gallery shop Park Life and Toronto-based manufacturer Imm-Living. The New York Times reports that Koons’ team is accusing the defendants of infringing upon the artist’s intellectual property rights by selling balloon dog bookends.

Jeff Koons, famous borrower

Jeff Koons has made millions of dollars by appropriating pop culture and mass-produced objects into his brand of kitsch art. This approach has garnered accusations that Koons himself is exploiting the copyrighted images of others. He’s been sued four times, losing three, yet his legal team continues to press the matter against Park Life and its balloon dog bookends.

Jamie Alexander, a co-owner of Park Life, insists that Koons’ case is baseless. The balloon dog bookends only resemble Jeff Koons’ status in general shape. The size, color, finish and fine details of the bookends appear to differ from Koons’ work at first glance. Legal representatives of Park Life and Imm-Living are prepared to “vigorously” defend what they believe is Koons’ false allegation. Park Life plans to continue selling the balloon dog bookends.

Please ignore the ‘balloon’ and the ‘dog’ in ‘balloon dog’

Legal experts have stated that Jeff Koons’ original balloon dog sculpture was based upon an object in the public domain. That will likely prompt a judge to instruct a jury to ignore characteristics of balloon dogs in general and ask them to focus specifically on whether the defendants violated Jeff Koons’ specific intellectual property. New York intellectual property lawyer Robert Clarida believes Koons’ burden of proof will be quite difficult to meet.


New York Times:
Wikipedia entry for intellectual property rights:

Jeff Koons on Bloomberg’s ‘Night Talk’

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