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Artists sue Brompton and its retailers for copyright infringement

Published April 3, 2019

NEW YORK CITY (BRAIN) — Two U.S. street artists are suing the British folding bike brand Brompton and 11 of its retailers, charging that the brand used their copyrighted art in social media campaigns without permission or compensation.

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Artists David Momyer and Justin Davis filed suit in Southern New York District Court this week, naming Brompton, New York retailer NYCeWheels and 10 unnamed U.S. Brompton retailers as defendants.

Brompton did not respond to emails that BRAIN sent to its public relations department on Monday, seeking comment on the suit.

NYCeWheels has not responded to emails from BRAIN; the phone number on its website is disconnected and its Facebook page said the store is closed.

According to the lawsuit, Momyer, who goes by the professional name MOMO, "is one of the most prominent large-scale muralists in the world."

Last June he obtained a federal copyright registration for a piece called "Mural on York Street." According to StreetArtNews.com, the mural is in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn and stretches 200 feet beneath the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. The mural was commissioned by the DUMBO District Management Association.

Davis goes by the professional name JMikal Davis and his studio is called Hellbent. Last June, Hellbent registered the copyright for a mural called "Not That Way," which was completed in 2016 in San Francisco. The mural was commissioned by a construction company. Hellbent assigned the copyright to Davis.

The suit charges that Brompton posed its bikes in front of "Mural on York Street" for social media campaigns that began in August 2015 promoting Brompton demo tour events held at retailers around the country. The suit says Brompton used "Not That Way" in social media starting in March 2017. The campaigns were on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The specific posts included in the complaint appear to have been deleted. Some of the posts cited are in the photo below.

NYCeWheels was likely named as a defendant because it was a Brompton dealer located in the court's jurisdiction and participated in the social media campaign for the demo tour.

BRAIN reported in January that NYCeWheels had closed its brick-and-mortar store but was continuing online sales.

The suit charges that, "Without obtaining any permission or authorization from Plaintiffs, Brompton used and continues to use the Murals in its social media marketing campaigns and in advertising for its sponsored events. Brompton has also distributed photographs of the Murals to retailers for their use in advertising Brompton bicycles and accessories."

The artists are demanding a jury trial and are seeking their actual damages and the Brompton's and the retailers' profits related to the infringements, plus interest.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for June 12.

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