Jamie Alexander got a letter from Jeff Koons’s lawyer making lots of demands over a balloon dog bookend his store was selling before Christmas:
Alexander pulled the bookends from the store (and its website) but doesn’t agree with the cease-and-desist order. “This man can’t own something that existed before him […] Jeff Koons has based his whole career on appropriating pop culture,” he said. “That’s fine, but don’t sue someone else for doing the same thing.”
The San Francisco Bay Citizen, which reported the story, sought comment from some copyright lawyers:
The main issue in artist copyright, according to San Francisco lawyer Simon Frankel of Covington & Burling LLP, a firm not attached to the case, is the protection of individual expression. On the one hand, the balloon dog bookend is unquestionably like Koons’ “Balloon Dog”; on the other, they both look like any children’s birthday party balloon animal.
“The idea that Jeff Koons would have an exclusive right to make objects in the shape of a balloon dog simply because he made one is surprising and inconsistent … with copyright law,” said Frankel, noting that by that logic, Koons could also pursue legal action against balloon artists everywhere.
Jeff Koons Sends Cease-and-Desist to SF’s Park Life Store (The Bay Citizen)