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Air Let Out of Koons' Balloon Dog Lawsuit

Jeff Koons -- one of the pop world's most successful artists, known for such work as inflatable bunnies and ceramic replicas of singer Michael Jackson and his pet chimp Bubbles -- last week dropped his lawsuit against a Toronto company that makes bookends in the shape of balloon dogs and Park Life, a San Francisco business that sells the items.

Koons had initially smacked both businesses with a cease-and-desist order, claiming that the bookends infringed on his intellectual property -- namely, the 10-foot-tall "Balloon Dog" sculptures that he has constructed for leading museums and the 10-inch replicas that fetch up to $12,500 on eBay. (By comparison, the Toronto-made bookends retail for about $55 at Park Life.)

As it happens, Koons' lawsuit did not perform well in the court of public opinion. Bloggers and columnists poked fun at his claims, and entertainers with experience in balloon-bending quickly offered to appear as expert witnesses in court. "Clowns all over America don't understand why Koons believes he was the first artist to turn the balloon dog into art," Funny Bone (aka Mike Ianneo) told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Every clown knows, for the last 40 years, the balloon dog has been always considered art."

By contrast, the legal response by Park Life (represented pro bono by Fenwick & West partner Jedediah Wakefield) had some admirers practically sitting up and begging for more (Example: "6 Hilarious Zingers From the Balloon-Dog Freedom Suit Filed Against Jeff Koons," from ArtInfo.com).

Under the terms of the settlement with Koons, Park Life can continue selling its bookends, business co-owner Jamie Alexander told The Bay Citizen. "The only thing that they wanted [us] to concede is that we couldn't advertise them as being related to Jeff Koons, which we never did."

Written by Law.com managing editor Paula Martersteck.

Posted by Laurel Newby on February 10, 2011 at 05:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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