U.S. News | Artist SMASH 137 Sues GM over Copyright Infringement for Cadillac Ad


Early this year, Swiss artist Adrian Falkner, popularly known as SMASH 137 sued General Motors over copyright infringement sequel to the use of the plaintiff commissioned Detroit murals in a Cadillac XT5 advertisement launched in 2016.

The plaintiff argues that the advert was a campaign tagged “Art of the Drive” which featured the XT5 crossover vehicle parked beside Falkner’s mural. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants deliberately hid his signature by capturing the car in a different angle to cut off the plaintiff signature.

In reaction to the suit, General Motors claims that the artwork qualifies under the Architectural Work exception in U.S. law that allows photographers to snap pictures of monumental structures such as the Washington Monument, Seattle Space Needle, and the Empire State Building in New York City among others. The defendant further claim that the work cannot be credited to the plaintiff because it’s an ordinary parking garage in downtown Detroit.

An opposition motion has been filed last week by Falkner before a federal court judge in California seeking compensation for unauthorized use of his work on the advert.

Court: California Central District Court
Judge: Stephen V Wilson
Referred: Jean P Rosenbluth
Case #: 2:18-cv-00549
Nature of Suit: Copyrights
Cause: Copyright Infringement
Case Filed: January 22, 2018
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About Nathaniel Adebayo 547 Articles
Nathaniel is a News Reporting Intern at Nigerian Law Intellectual Property Watch (NLIPW). He has a passion for writing, capacity building and social media marketing. He is a graduate of Federal University of Technology, Minna, where he graduated with BTECHAGRIC. He is a member of Soil Science Society of Nigeria (SSSN) and the National Union of Campus Journalist (NUCJ). Nathaniel has served as Editor-in-Chief for a number of magazines and as a contributor to various online repositories. Email: anathaniel@nlipw.com