Andy Warhol’s famous banana is in the dock. As Dave Itzkoff writes in the New York Times:
In January the Velvet Underground co-founders, Lou Reed and John Cale, sued the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, saying it illegally licensed the familiar banana image Warhol designed for the cover of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” (the one that peeled away to reveal a pinkish-colored fruit underneath). The appearance of the image on costly iPad sleeves and other items, the band members said in their complaint, improperly suggested that they gave their “sponsorship or approval” to these products.
The complex copyright portion of the lawsuit was, however, dismissed. The band had argued that the banana image was in the public domain (and thus could not be copyrighted by the foundation.) Another corporate fruit, Apple iPhone, while not named in the suit, prompted the action, for its licensed banana version (below). Although Reed and Cage slipped on this part of the case, hopes are that in the next stage, the claim of copyright infringement of the band’s trademark will bear fruit. Itzkoff adds:
In a motion to dismiss the case in March, the Warhol Foundation said the Velvet Underground could not claim a trademark for its ongoing business since the band broke up in 1972.