On June 9th, graffiti artists Donald “KEPTIONE” Robbins and Noah “DJ RAKUS” Daar filed a lawsuit against the sunglasses brand Oakley, alleging that the sunglasses and clothing brand used the artists’ work in an advertisement campaign without their permission.
The artists originally created the work in 2015 for a project called “Meeting of Styles,” which has provided an opportunity for graffiti artists to congregate and display their signature styles since 2002. But now, the artists’ work can be found on product displays, advertising materials, and in the company’s catalogue. The artists’ lawsuit, filed by attorney Jeff Gluck, claims the company’s misuse of the artwork is, “damaging in that the Artists have carefully avoided any association with corporate culture and mass-market consumerism.”
In response, Oakley is claiming that the artists’ work is not original enough to be considered for copyright protection. A letter issued by Oakley’s parent company, Luxottica––which also owns the likes of Prada, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, and Versace’s eyewear lines––reads:
“As you are aware, copyright protection subsists only in original works of authorship, and for a work of authorship to be original, it must possess at least some modicum of creativity. Because your client’s generic, graffiti-style markings fail to meet this minimum threshold, they are not eligible for copyright protection, and cannot be infringed.”