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Intellectual Property Litigation: Artist’s royalties in question

The works of art created by artists of all mediums are often precious to them. When the artist chooses to sell his or her work, fair compensation is considered a given. Unfortunately, artists are not always paid properly, with many not receiving royalties to which they are entitled and necessitating intellectual property litigation. One long-running case concerns a beloved Pop art sculptor, Robert Indiana, who created the famed “Love” sculpture here in New York and passed away last year. The fight over the rights to his pieces is still going on.

The Morgan Art Foundation represented Indiana for over three decades. Representatives have taken two people to court, alleging that they tried to isolate the artist and sold unauthorized and forged works of his while taking the profits from those sales. One of the defendants was Indiana’s assistant and caretaker. The other is the founder of American Image Art. They have said that the Morgan Art Foundations assertions are untrue.

A judge recently dismissed several counterclaims, including one that said the Morgan Art Foundation failed to pay royalties to the estate and did not have the authorization to create reproductions of Indiana’s pieces. An agreement from 1999 says that Indiana gave the intellectual property rights for some works to the Morgan Art Foundation, including the rights to reproduce some of them. The case is expected to go to trial eventually.

Even artists who aren’t as famous as Robert Indiana have the right to protect their work. Intellectual property litigation is an area of the law that requires extensive experience and knowledge. Those in New York who want to protect their intellectual property may want to consult an attorney to ensure that their legacy is safe.