Scott Gries, Getty There were a lot of big birthdays this week in music…
- Posted on Jan 12th 2012 2:30PM by Jason MacNeil
According to the New York Post -- and also reported by Exclaim -- Lou Reed and John Cale claim the image's use on products like iPad cases and shoulder bags is deceiving, leading people to believe the group have allowed the "sponsorship or approval" to these products. The lawsuit was filed in a Manhattan federal court.
"It is not merely the graphic reproduction by Andy Warhol of a piece of fruit: it is the 'iconic' VU banana," the suit says. "Inasmuch as the Warhol Foundation has such a large number of Andy Warhol designs, all of which are presumably unique works that are highly valued in the marketplace, there would appear to be no economic need to include the banana design among the designs that defendant licenses," court papers state.
The suit also says the band's "use and application" of the image "has been exclusive, continuous and uninterrupted for more than 25 years."
The banana which appeared on the debut album 'The Velvet Underground and Nico' was also used by the group as a trademark in its 1995 box set compilation and was later licensed to Absolut Vodka for use in 2001.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which took ownership of the copyrights and trademarks of the artist following his death in 1987, made no mention of the lawsuit on its official site. "Revenues generated through licensing fees support an increasing number of the Foundation's activities," the organization says regarding licensing.
This isn't the first time the album's artwork resulted in a legal situation. The album had to be recalled when it was first released after an upside-down image of actor Eric Emerson appeared on the back cover. Emerson threatened to sue unless he received compensation but the label simply airbrushed his photo on future pressings while placing a black sticker over his image.
The Velvet Underground -- featuring Reed, Cale, Maureen Tucker and Sterling Morrison -- reunited in 1993 for a European tour which produced a live album. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
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