Jan 11 (Reuters) - The rock group The Velvet Underground filed
a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking to stop its iconic Andy
Warhol-designed banana being used on covers for iPads, iPhones
or other items.
The 1960s rock band formed by Lou Reed and John Cale
accused the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts of
trademark infringement, claiming in a lawsuit that the banana
design is synonymous with The Velvet Underground.
The band said it was taking legal action after reading
newspaper reports in the past year that the Andy Warhol
Foundation had agreed to license the banana design to a series
of cases, sleeves and bags planned for Apple Inc's iPhone and
Apple is not named as a defendant in the civil lawsuit
filed in Manhattan federal court. The Warhol Foundation
declined to comment on Wednesday.
The banana in question was selected by Warhol and used with
the pop artist's signature on the cover of Velvet Underground's
1967 album "The Velvet Underground and Nico," according to the
Although Velvet Underground broke up in 1973, the album
later came to be regarded as one of the best albums of all
time, and was also referred to as "The Banana Album".
As a result the Banana design, which was never officially
copyrighted, "became a symbol, truly an icon, of the Velvet
Underground" for some 25 years, the lawsuit said.
"The symbol has become so identified with The Velvet
Underground ... that members of the public, particularly those
who listen to rock music, immediately recognize the banana
design as the symbol of The Velvet Underground," the complaint
The lawsuit said the band had repeatedly asked the Warhol
Foundation to cease licensing the banana design to third
parties "in a manner likely to cause confusion or mistake as to
the association of Velvet Underground with the goods sold in
commerce by such third parties."
Velvet Underground is seeking an injunction stopping the
use of the banana by third parties, a declaration that the
Warhol Foundation has no copyright interest in the design,
unspecified damages, and a share of the profits made by the
Warhol Foundation from any licensing deals.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant)
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