Artist Romero Britto is suing Apple Inc., Craig Redman of New York and Karl Maier of London, comprising the design firm Craig & Karl, in federal court alleging, among other things, copyright infringement and unfair competition. Britto claims that Apple and the design team, Craig & Karl misused his color-splashed images and distinctive style in their "Start Something New" marketing campaign.
Britto filed the lawsuit in a Miami federal court, on behalf of Britto Central, Inc. He is suing for unspecified damages and for an order telling Apple and the design company to stop using the images Britto alleges are his. The images at issue were used in Apple's marketing campaign and one of the images depict an outstretched hand with colorful designs flowing from a fingertip.
Britto has a Miami Beach studio and gallery and has licensing deals for his artwork with various corporations ranging from Coca Cola to Mattel and the FIFA soccer organization. Britto's lawyers investigated the source of the Apple image and noticed similarities between Craig & Karl's work and Brittos. Britto's attorneys maintain that even if an image is not an exact copy, Apple's use of bright colors and repeating patterns is so distinctive that imitations are instatly viewed as Britton's work. The lawsuit states that "the specific combination of visual elements when taken it its entirety creates a distinctive overall visual impression that is uniquely Britto."
Britto alleges that when Apple started using its campaign, he received messages congratulating hiim for what appeared to be a new business deal with Apple. Some of his exisitng business partners even expressed "consternation" about the supposed deal.
The lawsuit also states that "[the designn company has] systematically been using Romero Britto artwork to obtain jobs and advance their own careers by illegally trading upon the consumer affection and immeasurable goodwill built by Mr. Britto's decades of tireless work, promotion and investment."
Craig & Karl spokesman Stevie King called the lawsuit "entirely without merit."