Miami artist claims Apple ripped off his work for its ‘Start Something New’ campaign

Artist Romero Britto signs posters at a gallery in New York April 2, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
Artist Romero Britto signs posters at a gallery in New York Thomson Reuters

A Miami artist whose work has been used in Coca-Cola, Disney and Mattel advertisements is suing Apple claiming the California-based tech giant copied his signature bold bright colours and cartoony figures in a recent marketing campaign.

The lawsuit, filed on April 6 in the Southern District of Florida, claims Apple and its design firm mirrored Brazilian-born Romero Britto’s style in artwork used in Apple’s “Start Something New” campaign.

Apple’s work features a rainbow-coloured hand emitting multicolor wisps of smoke on its website and at retail locations across the world, according to the lawsuit.

“I came across them in Las Vegas in late January, and then in China three weeks later,” said Britto’s lawyer Robert Zarco.

The suit demands Apple and the design firm Craig & Karl immediately cease using the images.

Here is a look at the Apple advertisement in question:

Britto artwork Apple suit
The piece in question: A graphic print drawn by Craig & Karl, a design firm featured whose work is featured in Apple’s ‘Say Something New’ campaign.

And here is another example:

Craig & Karl apple store campaign lawsuit
Apple has featured Craig & Karl’s work in many retail locations.

Britto’s “distinctive style of artwork has become so famous and pervasive as to constitute a distinctive trade dress that identifies the highly-coveted lifestyle brand,” the complaint said.

A monetary demand has yet to be filed, however “the amount is going to be in the millions of dollars,” Zarco added.

Here is a sample of Britto’s work:

Britto apple lawsuit
Britto’s distinctive and colourful style has made him a pop-art legend.

A spokesman for Apple and Craig & Karl – designers Craig Redman of New York and Karl Maier of London – couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Britto’s vivid work is featured across Miami where it has made its way onto tourist and lifestyle goods that have been disbursed across the world.

His art has been printed on Florida lottery tickets, Barbie dolls, and baby strollers.

Britto apple lawsuit
Britto’s work has been displayed around the world. Here is one shot from his show in China.

Britto was born in 1963 in the Pernambuco region of Brazil and later immigrated to Miami with his family. He opened his main gallery on Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road in 1993 as the outdoor mall was on the verge of becoming a worldwide tourist attraction.

The case in the Southern District of Florida is Britto Central, Inc. v. Redman et al, case number 1:15-cv-21320.

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