jeff koons : can one copyright a balloon animal?
jeff koons : can one copyright a balloon animal? jeff koons : can one copyright a balloon animal?
jan 09, 2011

jeff koons : can one copyright a balloon animal?

bookend ballon dog

lawyers of american artist jeff koons issued a cease-and-desist letter to park life, a small san francisco store and gallery, asking them to stop selling and advertising their balloon dog bookends

can koons own something that existed before him? also considering that the artist has based his whole career on appropriating pop culture and has been repeatedly sued for inappropriately using others’ copyrighted images.


the balloon dog bookend is unquestionably like koons’ ‘balloon dog’ ; on the other hand, they both look like any children’s birthday party balloon animal and if you would try to build one it would probably look very similar too. parklife published a comment ‘jeff koons owns all likenesses of balloon dogs‘. the balloon dog bookends were bought by park life from a toronto distributor imm living. the company’s goods are sold in more than 700 stores in the US.

here is the ‘original’: jeff koons’ balloon dog sculpture on the roof of the metropolitan museum of art, new york, april 2008. the new york times critic was enraptured by the ‘intellectually and sensuously exciting’ sculpture, calling the balloon dog ‘a sly trojan horse: it seems innocent but is loaded with aesthetic and erotic perversity‘.

what’s your opinion? do you think the bookend falls into the category of an original interpretation of a public domain idea/object?

via baycitizen and unbeige

  • tail is similar

    q says:
  • taking a lawyer is an act of assholes
    i think that koons owns this pop icon
    and any other that uses this icon is just lacking of originality
    another example:

    swing says:
  • Why not replace it with a golden balloon cock bookend. Would be a nice replacement.

    jeff koons© says:
  • copy cat designers are everywhere..,they can easily steal good ideas from top design website and magazines, but they can’t steals those great brains.

    they will be second-rate designers forever!

    apo says:
  • Pop culture cannot be copyrighted. Poor kid’s birthdays without balloons!

    DL says:
  • dare I say herein lies the difference between an artist and a designer? Koons likes to stir.

    Bren says:
  • Jeff Koons is a moron. Go buy a pack of balloons… the directions to MAKE the dog will likely be ON the package or INSIDE the package and have been that way for DECADES.

    This is almost as dumb as that company that owns the rights to “Happy Birthday” and Paris Hilton trying to trademark the phrase “Thats Hot” as if she is the first person to say it ever.

    He’s a HACK anyway.

    enochjohnson says:
  • If koons owned the ‘balloon dog’ then he would have to sue every clown in the whole wide world. Balloon dogs are made by every clown round the world, from China to Paris and from Oslo to Buenos Aires….
    But indeed Koons’ sculpture is an icon in pop art, but he does not own the balloon dog.

    Ingo says:
  • How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?

    Fifty four. Eight to argue, one to get a continuance, one to object, one to demur, two to research precedents, one to dictate a letter, one to stipulate, five to turn in their time cards, one to depose, one to write interrogatories, two to settle, one to order a secretary to change the bulb, and twenty-eight to bill for professional services.

    Booya Koons.. you’re wrong buddy, and your lawyer is also moronic. Take a chill pill.

    CROFTdesign says:
  • Given that this object (said bookend) is a generic form of pop culture, appearing previously to Jeff’s appropriation, and it appears that there is at least a 10% difference in materials, form and colour from Jeff’s sculpture, his lawyers don’t have a leg to stand on. Also unless Jeff’s art is domestically or internationally registered as a design or a trademark, then he’s fighting a loosing battle. I’d hate to rain on your party or burst your ballon Jeff…..

    ahhh the irony says:
  • this makes me want to buy the bookends…

    tkbrdly says:
  • Why produce bookends? What a completely stupid invention anyway, what next paperweights?

    Clown says:
  • that ototodesign website is also copy Oval Design website design by CoDesign from HK…

    apo says:
  • [url=] youtube instructions [/url]

    [url=] youtube instructions [/url]

    Dear lawyers of Jeff Koons,
    Hereby I send you some Youtube-links in witch you find other people to get on! These people are even instructing how to make a Jeff Koons,
    or did Jeff Koons learn it from them?
    Pleas think again misters… and aren’t your pockets filled allready?

    By the way, can I still do my balloontrick as a clown?

    bassie says:
  • Egomania consumes the mind.

    anais says:
  • Koons, get on with being a designer, instead of trying to make money from copyrighting an inflated dog!

    JGREEN says:
  • Are there any pre 2008 balloon animal experts out there who fancy launching a counter suit against Koons? Unless you were the 1st you can’t claim ownership on a shape.

    rochedesigns says:
  • What a stupid issue, it´s like accusing of copying a car company for using wheels or round headlights.

    Ballon dogs are a public product, meaning that EVERYBODY can use it, to do WHATEVER they want, the only way the pop sculpture can win this case is if it was a sculpture, which inst, or if the maker did an EXACT copy (even as small as a book holder) which it´s not the case because they have some differences.

    I wonder if the maker of the dog ballon will sue the sculpturist for making that huge copy of his work…

    It´s clearly just a way to make fast money, imo.

    What? says:
  • Jeff Koons is a good designer but a bit superficient caught up by inflatables, easy to stamp, and runing behind great work

    Thom says:
  • Hasn’t anyone ever heard of Marcel Duchamp!!?? And since when is Koons a designer – he’s an artist!! He plays with beauty and logic. It may help to let your grip on the practical go, for the moment at least. It seems to be clouding the issue.

    bren says:
  • Hi Bren thank you for replying. Still believe he walks the line with a generous smile He can decorate my kids room, when I have won the lottery 🙂

    Thom says:
  • Of course Koons knows that he is not going to win the legal battle. He does it because the gallery is biting his art.

    Koons would never think that a clown is copying his work when he makes a balloon dog.

    But selling ballon dogs in a art-context in a gallery is a direct reference to his work.

    And it is also a really bad copy. I understand that he is pissed.

    Karl says:
  • Hi Thom. Hadn’t seen your comment before I wrote mine! Dunno about the D word but I’ll go with the “generous smile”.
    Why doesn’t anyone notice the lovely lines, the gorgeous golden-ness or the fact it ISN’T a bunch of balloons?? [or is it?] And the added dimension of the copyrite just dusts the surface of it all with a bit of lumpy logic. When all is said and done – the golden ballon dog – and it’s copyrite – is an aesthete’s delight. [another D word to consider?]

    bren says:
  • i’m a clown and i do balloon animals at my parties, does anybody know a good lawyer to sue him? And my name is jeff, can i sue him for that too? and im a male? Could i sue him for that also?

    BTW i will cast my own balloondog bookend and paint a bmw, does anyone want to buy one?

    jeff the male clown suer says:
  • I am going to trade mark the word human and sue every mother f*cker.

    Human says:
  • That nothin’…years ago I knew a guy who owned a balloon and -get this- he had a sister who actually drew a picture of a dog once, so I claim prior art. I will now sue for the rights to all balloons, dogs, and sisters in teh universe. Mortals, tremble in fear of my army of lawyers!

    Mike says:
  • [url=] wikipedia-Jeff Koons and copyright [/url]
    This is strictly from Wikipedia, so take it with a massive grain of salt. But Koons seems to be someone with zero respect for other’s intellectual property, so using that argument on others seems rather louche, don’t you think?

    ChipSuey says:
  • It’s a public domain shape… so he has no more right to control it than a clown (which he is). If the gallery was selling it as a Koons, then he’s got a claim. But considering it is different enough that you wouldn’t be confused easily, I don’t think so. So I guess this is a case of “you reap what you sow.”

    jah says:
  • Koons needs to ask himself why his ballon dog scupture was a success. The simple reason is everyone recognised it. Now why was that, I wonder?

    Paul Waite says:
  • perhaps Jeff will make a set of large scale paintings of the cease and desist letter and its response.

    Robbo says:
  • [url=–TGQGNFc]puppy dog[/url]

    kim says:
  • I made [url=] a blog tribute[/url] to this subject. WARNING, CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT. But it was inspired by one of the comments here.

    jeffkoonsux says:
  • to bad you cant pop it.

    thecoon says:
  • Way to invalidate your own art, you opportunistic fraud.

    Brenda says:
  • this would be relevant if jeff koons was an actual artist…

    greenbiker says:
  • *yawn*

    he won’t be able to register the copyright and he’s actually a complete asshole for trying. but really who cares, he’s a fart in the wind, I hope he has his ass handed to him in court costs.

    burp says:
  • It’s a shame that legal processes allow Jeff Koons to promote his P.R by limiting other creator in making fair business, based on creativity and humor.
    Balloon sculptures are very well known for more than 30 years and are regularly used by magicians and clowns all over the world. Koons can’t obtain copyrights on the dog’s shape which is a public domain.
    On top of that, huge “balloon sculptures” were used by DORON GAZIT-an Israeli industrial designer already at the 80’s. Doron has built 6 meters high inflated baloon sculptures of animals (including the dog) on the top of the ISRAEL MUSEUM, at the fifth Av. in New-York and few others well known locations.

    Koons’ dog is a great idea and beautifully executed, but this isn’t a reason to capitalize on other’s creations. The Balloon-Sculpture- shaped -book- holders are also a very pleasant idea which deserves success in the market.

    The world is wide enough. Let us enjoy both Koons’ sculpture and the book holders.

    yoram bar-sela says:
  • clearly Koons is just doing this to get more attention

    kc says:
  • Ridiculous affair despite a resemblance….to any balloon dog!!
    Perhaps the bookend should carry a masculine appendix….to be unequivocally different?

    mseg says:

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