Internationally acclaimed visual artist Maya Hayuk has slapped an already troubled Coach, Inc. with a copyright infringement lawsuit this week. According to Hayuk's complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of New York court on Wednesday, the New York-based brand copied her "Chem Trails NYC" in a recent ad campaign. Hayuk's large-scale mural, which was commissioned for Bowery Mural Wall and on display at Houston and Bowery streets from February 2013 until earlier this summer, an outdoor exhibition space in downtown New York City, was reportedly featured in an online ad campaign(pictured below) for the brand's clothing and accessories without authorization.
Citing copyright infringement (yes, it may still be copyright infringement even if Hayuk's mural was plastered on the side of a wall on Bowery), Hayuk is seeking at least $150,000 in money damages and a permanent injunction, which would prevent Coach from running the campaign in the future. This adds to the recently-filed internship lawsuit that Coach is currently facing, in addition to its arguably futile attempts to revamp its brand as a result of some significant marketshare losses in the affordable luxury sector. In case that's not enough, Coach also has pending litigation with luxury travel bag maker, Tumi, which the brand sued for trademark infringement earlier this month. Coach alleges that Tumi is copying its trademarked "Story Patch", the one that resides on the inside of most Coach bags and reads, "This is a Coach bag. It was handcrafted from genuine leather. Its superior craftsmanship and attention to detail reflect our commitment of enduring quality."
As for Hayuk, this is not the only lawsuit that she has filed recently. The artist, 45, also filed suit against singer Sara Bareilles, Sony Music and Epic Records, alleging that Bareilles used images and video of Hayuk's mural to promote her music and recent tour. The suit alleges that the singer and her team have used unauthorized photos and videos of Hayuk's Chem Trails NYC to promote Bareilles’ “Little Black Dress Tour” via ads, Facebook and other social media. Moreover, images of the mural were used in connection with the marketing of Bareilles’ album “The Blessed Unrest,” and third-parties like Ticketmaster were wrongfully instructed by the defendants to use the images when pitching Bareilles’ concerts and music, the suit claims.
In 2009, Hayuk filed a similar lawsuit against hipster retailer Urban Outfitters and t-shirt manufacturer New Name Inc. for copyright infringement, claiming the companies printed and sold t-shirts bearing her artwork on despite her explicit refusal to enter into a license agreement with them. The work at issue in that case, which eventually settled, was “Pilgrim,” part of the “Just Good Vibe” mural series. According to that suit, in January 2008, Urban Outfitters solicited Hayuk to participate in an “artist series” and license her artwork to be mass-produced on apparel and housewares. Hayuk says in her complaint that she declined the retailer's offer the same day, expressing concerns that her artwork would be overexposed through mass production, only to have Urban Outfitters use the designs without her consent.