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Walmart and Ellen DeGeneres are being sued over their collaborative EV1 line by a New York artist who doesn’t love their alleged use of his design.
Julian Rivera on Monday filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the retail giant and the talk show icon, claiming his “love” design was copied without permission on the clothing.
The artist says he has carefully avoided association with corporate culture and has diligently controlled distribution of his work in order to protect his reputation.
“Despite offers, he has very rarely made his original art available as part of corporate advertising campaigns — partly for artistic reasons but also because doing so would diminish the value of his work,” writes attorney Jeffrey Gluck in the complaint. “Indeed, nothing is more antithetical to a street artist’s credibility than association with mass-market consumerism — of which Walmart is the epitome. People who recognized his Design in the EV1 Collection would have concluded that Rivera “sold out,” diminishing the value of his work and reputation.”
Rivera says he sent a cease and desist letter to Walmart in May, and in July the retailer’s lawyers “asserted that it had not copied the Design, that its own graphic was quite different, and that the Design was only minimally creative.”
Rivera is suing for copyright infringement and unfair competition, and is seeking monetary damages and an order that the retailer must recall any infringing products from the marketplace.
The full complaint, which contains a comparison of the designs, is posted below. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to DeGeneres for comment. A Walmart spokesman sent THR this statement: “Walmart is an intellectual property owner and respects the intellectual property rights of others. Once we are served with the complaint, we will respond appropriately with the court.”
July 30, 12:40 p.m. Updated with a statement from Walmart.
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