Thursday 1 August 2013

'Arm not amused by your art!

Seeking to send a message about consumerism, Russian artist Petro Wodkins has created a website which purports to offer Armani branded nappies.

The website - (currently still active) - contains photographs taken by Wodkins of babies wearing Armani branded nappies, which were made by one of his friends, as well as images from Armani's actual website. Indeed, Wodkins' site very much mirrors Armani's website, which is hosted at

Accordingly, to set up the 'artwork', Wodkins not only registered the domain name, but downloaded features and content from Armani's actual website.

For IP lawyers, the obvious problems with this approach are immediately apparent. Wodkins is using Armani's trade mark [albeit perhaps not as a trade mark] and its copyright works without authorisation.  And Armani is not happy - although, oddly, not for those reasons.  In a statement to Yahoo! Shine, Armani said:
"Following reports of the business activities of the e-commerce website the Armani Group wishes to emphasize its non-involvement in the initiative. The items for sale, especially in the baby section, are counterfeit, as are the photographs advertising them. [Not clear why they claim the photos are counterfeit.]
No permission was ever granted in this regard by the Armani Group, who avails exclusively of its partnership with Yoox for e-commerce purposes. Legal action for the immediate closure of the website and the re-appropriation of the domain by the Armani Group has been promptly initiated."
From Wodkins' side, he has explained his work as follows:
"I think we see things close to Armani Diapers all the time...People sacrifice and abandon what they deep down think is right, for a higher purpose, to belong and to find shelter and comfort. I'd say deep down everyone is feeling that a scarf for $1,000 is wrong, but the scarf serves a higher purpose - to give you what you feel you need...  
Mainly, I'm trying to make people see...Not necessarily what I want them to see but at least to open their eyes."
It seems that while Armani's eyes may be open, they are not liking what they see.

If you want to see the work, you may need to be quick, before Armani's lawyers shut down the site.

Source: The Huffington Post, 24 July 2013, Yahoo! Shine, 17 July 2013

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