Ed Hardy versus Christian Audigier Don Ed Hardy Says Tattoo Designs infringed by Christian Audigier

Don Ed Hardy, the first American tattoo artist to study with Japanese experts, sued a former licensee for copyright infringement.

Hardy, who came to tattooing with a degree in printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute, formed Hardy Life in 2004 for the purpose of licensing his intellectual property to third parties, according to the May 29 complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles.

One of his licensees was Christian Audigier, a high-profile French entrepreneur and fashion designer. In September 2004, Hardy licensed 1,800 tattoo designs to Audigier and Los Angeles- based Nervous Tattoo Inc.

Celebrities such as Shakira, Madonna, Parish Hilton, Leonardo Dicaprio and Kanye West have been photographed wearing clothing derived from Hardy’s designs.

After some initial disputes, the parties negotiated a new license agreement for a 10-year term. This agreement presently covers the business relationship between them, according to court papers.

Nervous Tattoo and Audigier have “refused to comply” with “repeated requests” for samples of packaging, labeling, advertising and products bearing the licensed IP, Hardy said in his complaint.

Beginning in 2007, Nervous Tattoo and Audigier began designing and distributing products with a tagline “Ed Hardy by Christian Audigier,” that Hardy says he never approved. They are also using unauthorized copies of Hardy’s designs, and have created unauthorized derivative works, according to court papers.

Hardy also claimed the defendants transferred ownership of his domain name “Donedhardy.com” to themselves without his consent, and created five additional domain names containing his name.

He asked the court to find that Audigier and Nervous Tattoo infringed his copyrights, are knowingly using counterfeit trademarks, and have misappropriated his domain name. He seeks an order barring additional infringement, seizure and destruction of infringing material and money damages. He asked for additional financial compensation to punish the defendants for their conduct, and for attorney fees.

John J. Dabney, Elliot Silverman and Rita M. Weeks Siamas of Chicago’s McDermott Will & Emery represent Hardy.

The case is Hardy Life LLC, v. Nervous Tattoo Inc., 2:08-cv- 03524-PA-CT, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).