Philip Morris Sends Cease & Desist To Artist For Using Marlboro Box In His Art

from the have-you-met-ms.-streisand? dept

Every time you think that lawyers may have finally caught on to the fact that sending out ridiculous cease and desist letters to silence things they don’t like will backfire on them, you hear of yet another case of it happening. This time it’s tobacco giant Philip Morris, who sent a cease & desist letter to artist Brad Troemel for some artwork he had up on his Etsy page. He had two different pieces for sale on Etsy, each involving a Marlboro box. One of them is still up. It’s the “dean & deluca low calorie snack inside Marlboro box w/ Cerebral Palsy Tissue/Organ Kidney Cancer Green Ribbon Glittery Sticker (Ethical) 1/2” (catchy name):

According to the genius lawyers at Philip Morris, consumers seeing this are going to be confused into believing that Philip Morris is actually endorsing the product. Because, apparently, Philip Morris believes its consumers are complete morons who can’t understand art-as-social-commentary.
This reminds me of Louis Vuitton’s similar trademark bullying to shut down art exhibits critical of its products. Trademark bullying to stifle criticism isn’t new, but it’s pretty ridiculous. The end result, of course, is that Troemel’s work — and the commentary on the original products — will now get that much more attention due to PM’s crazy attempt to make it go away.

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Companies: philip morris

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Comments on “Philip Morris Sends Cease & Desist To Artist For Using Marlboro Box In His Art”

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Andrew F (profile) says:

Re: Re: But Philip Morris might be right...

I don’t think Campbell soup actually sued. The paintings didn’t really portray Campbell in a negative light, so they were pretty chill about it.

Also, soup companies can CwF too:

out_of_the_blue says:

One notion is that ANY publicity is good.

So they may just be doing a “Reverse Streisand” on ya, Mike. Ya never know.

I’ve noticed product placement here and there across teh internets, I suppose mostly on the Cheezburger sites: I don’t claim to know, or even cast aspersions, but has struck me that would be good for subtle free advertising. — If I’ve thought of it, so has everyone with a direct interest. Just saying.

Zos (profile) says:

Re: One notion is that ANY publicity is good.

any advertising subliminal enough that my bullshit filter doesn’t catch it, is good enough marketing that it gets a tip of the hat in respect, rather than the wagging finger of fail. I don’t mind marketers attempting to manipulate the interwebz and hack consumers. i even like a good pitch… but i sure as fuck hate being talked down to.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The question you should be asking yourself is: Does Phillip Morris actually lose anything by letting their copyright get abused? The way I see it, their product is almost completely impossible to make a commercial for from their side. They might as well let viral marketing take over and let the use slide.
Is there anyway they can be made responsible for not protecting their IPR?

Anonymous Coward says:

Cigarettes SUCK

Those who suck on them are most likely grievously addicted to them.

Tobacco/cigarette companies *** S U C K ***.

Laws that protect the deception by tobacco/cigarette companies over the truth about the ingredients and carcinogenic chemicals purposely sprayed on tobacco that kills my friends and family *** S U C K ***.

Lawyers that attempt to protect tobacco/cigarette companies from looking like they *** S U C K ***, *** S U C K ***.

Anything tobacco/cigarette companies do to protect their [death by manufacturing] products makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and only makes it crystal clear that in making their living, producing these death sticks, they are not the least bit concerned with the health of the world. Oh, but guard that mark.

That *** S U C K S ***.

Its time to quit smoking if you haven’t already. Don’t give them any more of your money.

Don’t *** S U C K ***.

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

Fair use and transformitive arts

I think that today, Andy Warhol would not be able to practice his art. Would the world be better off? I doubt it, even though I am not a fan of his. It is time we vette our politicians / government representatives for their views on copyright/patent laws, and only support those who are minimalist in their views on the subject – that the current trends in those regards are quickly eroding an entire cultural legacy and providing no benefit to the public, who they (our representatives) are sworn to represent…

mc says:

They have a point...

Sorry, but I think PM has a point. Many many times Tobacco companies have been attacked by anti-tobacco organizations that they don’t do enough to combat advertising to minors. For example, I personally know one time that a tobacco company got negative press because there were hundres of youtube videos featuring some of its trademarks, and they criticized that the company didn’t do anything to stop this “indirect” advertising that minors can have access to.

So, apart from the discussion of whether it is ok to use IP in this specific case, there might be other reasons to stop these kind of use. One of them being indirect advertisement to minors, even if not done directly by PM. If PM doesn’t do anything to combat this use, they can get bad press from anti-tobacco organizations that they are not doing enough to combat advertising to minors.

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