California Intellectual Property Blog


#CardiffKook Surfer Statue is Center of #Copyright Lawsuit

waveSan Diego – The Cardiff Kook statute proudly stands near one of the most popular surf breaks in San Diego, California, where over the years it has become most famous for being the target for a variety of pranks which usually take the form of the statue being dressed in unique outfits. It addition to this ridicule, it is now the focus of a lawsuit.

The image copyright of the statue belongs to Cardiff 101 Main Street, a non-profit organization working to promote the Cardiff by the Sea community. The organization obtained the copyright when the statue’s creator, Matthew Antichevich, transferred the copyright over to it when the statue was built in 2007.

In the lawsuit, Cardiff 101 claims that the Cardiff Kook Run knowingly infringed on the statute copyright when it used the statue’s image without compensation wheny printing the statute’s image on signs, medals, T-shirts, websites, and other promotional materials. Cardiff 101 filed the lawsuit on January 25, 2016, a few weeks before the annual Cardiff Kook Run on February 7. The lawsuit seeks up to $150,000 in damages for willful infringement.

The race’s co-founder and organizer Steve Lebherz said that while the race began in 2012, he didn’t learn the statue’s image was protected by copyright until December of 2015. Lebherz responded by agreeing to cease using the image after this year’s run. He added that he would have stopped earlier if the promotional materials were not already created. Since the materials had already been created, he claimed that it would be too costly to remove and replace the images for this year’s race.

The attorney for Cardiff 101, claims that Lebherz knew about the copyright and has previously paid a licensing fee. This year, Lebherz refused to pay the fee, which is what prompted Cardiff 101 to file the lawsuit.

Lebherz argues the lawsuit is in retaliation for the Cardiff Kook Run declining to partner with Cardiff 101 when Cardiff 101 sought a higher administrative fee, promoting the Cardiff Kook Run to partner with another nonprofit. Lebherz also points out that the Kook run has donated around $15,000 to improve the area surrounding the statue.

“It’s really too bad,” Lebherz said. “We put money and upkeep towards [the statue] and we’re somehow being singled out.”


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