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February 3rd, 2011

From the NY Times

February 3, 2011, 4:18 pm

All Bark, No Bite: Settlement Reached in Balloon Dog Dispute

Joan Marcus

Clowns everywhere can breathe easier: Jeff Koons’s lawyers have backed down in an intellectual property dispute over balloon dog-shaped bookends. In December, Peter D. Vogl of the firm Jones Day, which represents Jeff Koons LLC, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Imm-Living, the Toronto company that manufactures the bookends, and Park Life, a San Francisco gallery that sells them, arguing that they violated Mr. Koons’s intellectual property rights. Mr. Koons is well-known for his stainless-steel versions of the canines.

Bloggers largely scoffed at the threat, but Park Life decided not to just sit around and see if Mr. Koons would sue. On January 20, its lawyer, Jedediah Wakefield of Fenwick and West, working pro bono, sued Jeff Koons LLC in San Francisco federal court, asking the court to declare that Park Life wasn’t infringing on Mr. Koons’s i rights. “They very quickly indicated they weren’t interested in putting up a fight,” Mr. Wakefield said of Mr. Koons’s lawyers. Ultimately, Jeff Koons LLC agreed not to pursue the gallery for the sale of the bookends, and the gallery agreed not to indicate that the bookends were by Mr. Koons, which, Mr. Wakefield added, “they hadn’t done and weren’t going to do anyway.” As a result of the deal, he said, he was planning to file on Thursday for a dismissal of the declaratory judgment suit.

Meanwhile, Imm-Living’s lawyer, Rod Byrnes, said he had also received a letter from Jones Day, saying that it would not pursue the intellectual property claims, as long as Imm-Living didn’t try to tie Mr. Koons to the bookends. Mr. Byrnes said he found that satisfactory, but wanted confirmation in writing that the settlement was final. Mr. Wakefield called the original threat a headscratcher that, in any event, “quickly deflated.”