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Tattoo Law: Can 'Hangover 2' Use Tyson Tattoo on Ed Helms' Character?

In April 2010 I pointed out some examples of tattoo law jurisprudence and asked, "[t]here are blawgs out there on everything from "Law and Magic" to "Mixed Martial Arts Law" so how can there not be a blawg about Tattoo Law? Is there not an ink-loving lawyer out there who will step up here?"

I have yet to see any tattoo law blogs, but it is not too late for any of you wannabe tattoo bloggers, as the tattoo lawsuits continue to pile up. Most recently, an interesting lawsuit was filed by the tattoo artist who created the now-famous "tribal” tattoo around Mike Tyson's left eye against Warner Bros., the studio responsible for “Hangover 2.” 


OnPointNews reports that artist Victor Whitmill, who owns the intellectual property rights to the design, has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Warner Bros. alleging that the tattoo cannot be reproduced on anyone's body other than Mike Tyson without his permission. In "Hangover 2," Ed Helms' character wakes up to find what appears to be the Tyson tattoo inked on his face.

Whitmill reportedly registered his copyright in April 2011 and is seeking damages and an injunction on the Memorial Day weekend release of "Hangover 2." OPN states that, to be successful, a "fair use" defense by Warner Bros. may need to show that the tattoo in the movie is a parody of Tyson's tattoo, i.e., “a new art work that makes ridiculous the style and expression of the original.” Rogers v. Koons, 960 F. 2d 301 (1992). OPN concludes that the defendant should have a "strong argument that by recreating the Tyson tattoo on Ed Helms's face, they were making an ironic or comic reference to Tyson's appearance in the original movie."

Posted by Bruce Carton on May 4, 2011 at 03:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)


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