Lawrin Rosen and his company Arteffects (“ARTfx”) have been designing and fabricating award-winning signs nearly 40 years. While you may not know the company, you probably have been impressed by its signs. Their signs can be found at world headquarters of companies like Stanley Black & Decker, Casinos like Foxwoods, Banks like People’s United, Healthcare providers like Hartford Hospital, Schools like Loomis Chaffee, law firms like Alderman & Alderman, and many leading restaurants.
In late 2019 the owner of a couple restaurants, asked ARTfx to design an updated sign for a restaurant that it was acquiring. Using their decades of experience, understanding of the market, and current trends, ARTfx provided design proposals, including artistically designed graphic elements and specific unique colors, chosen to evoke the desired emotional response from those who saw the sign. Like all artwork created by ARTfx, the proposal was delivered with a copyright notice that the design was subject to a copyright by ARTfx, and that the design could not be used without it’s purchase from ARTfx.
After reviewing the proposal, the restaurant owner advised Lawrin that the restaurant could not afford a new sign at that time and would keep its old sign.
Not surprisingly, the restaurant owner really liked the design created by ARTfx. What was surprising (and disappointing) was that the restaurant owner chose to use the copyrighted artwork to have a new sign, a new website, menus, table tops, uniforms and other products – all without purchasing the copyrighted artwork.
Always willing to give customers the benefit of the doubt, ARTfx offered the restaurant the opportunity to purchase the copyrighted artwork that it was using. Unfortunately, the restaurant took the “sue me” approach. So ARTfx asked Alderman & Alderman for help.
The restaurant owner was not pleased when his lawyer explained to him that the restaurant really had only two choices: a) change the sign, the website, the printed products and the uniforms to stop using the ARTfx design; or b) purchase the copyrighted artwork from ARTfx. Ultimately, the restaurant owner paid an agreed price to purchase the copyrighted artwork being used.
We do not know what the restaurant’s lawyers charged for their services in responding to the legal demand, conducting legal research and advising their client or reviewing the copyright assignment and release. We do know that the restaurant paid more to settle the copyright infringement claim than it would have paid if the owner had not tried to use the artwork without paying for it’s design.