Apr 2, 2019

Mercedes Benz in hot water with Detroit artists

Yesterday we reported on Jaguar Land Rovers success at the Chinese courts against Chinese copycat car manufacturer, Jiangling Motor Corporation. Today, car manufacturer Mercedes Benz, has made headlines after allegations of copyright infringement against the company have emerged.

The allegations emerged following the release of the Mercedes Benz marketing campaign for its G 500 Series Truck on Instagram. The images that were posted detailed the new model in a Detroit street well-known for its artwork and graffiti. The image was slightly blurred so as to suggest the car was moving.

Following the post on Instagram, the car maker was contacted by the street artists responsible for the graffiti and threatened with a copyright infringement lawsuit.

In response to these threats, Mercedes Benz filed civil actions at the US District Court in Michigan requesting a declaratory judgement that it has not infringed the artists copyright.  The carmaker took immediate action to remove the posts from Instagram in an attempt to diffuse the situation, but this attempt failed. Mercedes Benz have argued that it wanted the focus of the image to be the car itself and not the artwork behind it, hence why the image is blurred.

One of the artists responsible for the mural has commented on how he feels bullied and intimidated by the carmakers filing. He argues that it is unacceptable that his permission was not sought beforehand, or that no compensation was offered to him in circumstances where the car in question is being sold for $200,000.

Mercedes Benz is seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement and fair use. They are also seeking an award of costs and legal fees.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

in: Copyright, News

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