In June 2015, I was sent an email by a lawyer representing a trademarked celebrity artist who I had fairly commented on through my Brand Art Sensation artwork and exhibition which was due to open a week later.
I have been waiting for all this time to speak out about this because I was afraid of the legal costs I would have to face to defend myself and my artwork if the matter had gone as far as legal proceedings. It is now understood that I was not breaking any trademark and that the letter was perhaps just an attempt to bully my critique to this branded artists. What they asked me to do to avoid legal action was the following:
Below I am sharing what they asked me to do to avoid legal action:
- immediately remove any reference to [...]* from your exhibition; and
- provide us with full details, together with copies of any relevant documentation, of the exploitation and earnings generated by sales from the show Brand Art Sensation to date; and
- you and/or any entity trading under the name Zaniol Limited (and any associated subsidiary or associated company, agent or employee) will cease and desist forthwith from making any reference to our client or his/her artworks and that you will remove all/any reference to our client in the show Brand Art Sensation.
I should here clarify that since November 2014, British law on copyright allows artists to reference other artists for the purpose of cultural critique or commentary.
By removing any reference to the artist, my artwork would have lost all its value and contextualised meaning. Proving them with copies of my "exploitation and earnings generated by sales from the show Brand Art Sensation to date' would have suggested that I had indeed exploited and made unfair financial gain from their client, which of course I hadn't. Moreover, they were asking to share private information, and in that would have breached my privacy. In all of this, when asked by my lawyer friend, they never provided any evidence to their claims and I have not heard from them ever since.
I say bullies sharks!