Lou Reed’s unfortunate diversion with Metallica that produced sonic abortion Lulu mustn’t have been that lucrative for him because his iconic rock group The Velvet Underground has just launched a lawsuit against the Andy Warhol Foundation seeking to repay damages for the foundation licensing the iconic banana image out to just about anyone who wanted it the last 30 years.
Warhol, who was once the manager for the group, created the cover for 1966 album “The Velvet Underground and Nico” using a banana image taken from “an advertisement in the public domain,” according to court documents filed on Wednesday.
Unfortunately no one ever bothered to officially copyright the image and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has gone about licensing the iconic image to the highest bidder ever since. The lawsuit alleges that since the release of the record, which wasn’t a commercial success at the time, it has achieved cult status and that the banana image has “became a symbol, truly an icon, of the Velvet Underground”.
The Lou Reed fronted group were spurred into action after they read a newspaper report last year that detailed licensing agreements the Warhol Foundation had made with manufacturers of cases, sleeves, and bags for the iPhone and iPad.
“The symbol has become so identified with The Velvet Underground … that members of the public, particularly those who listen to rock music, immediately recognize the banana design as the symbol of The Velvet Underground,” the complaint added.
According to the lawsuit the band have repeatedly asked the Warhol Foundation to cease licensing the banana design to third parties “in a manner likely to cause confusion or mistake as to the association of Velvet Underground with the goods sold in commerce by such third parties.”
The band are seeking an injunction stopping the use of the banana by third parties, a declaration that the Warhol Foundation has no copyright interest in the design, unspecified damages, and a share of the profits made by the Warhol Foundation from any licensing deals.