The designer of a leather jacket worn by food and wine expert Antoni Porowski on Netflix's reality makeover Queer Eye is suing LEGO for copyright infringement, saying the Danish toymaker used a recreation of the one-of-a-kind jacket in their special Fab Five Loft LEGO set without his permission.
Artist James Concannon filed suit in Connecticut, claiming he gifted the jacket to his friend Porowski, but never authorized its use by LEGO.
In the lawsuit filed last month, Concannon describes himself as a “multi-disciplinary artist who specializes in the infiltration and subversion of pop culture” but also noted he has a “serious medical condition” and “supports himself and a young child through his work.”
Concannon said he gifted the jacket to Porowski and never objected to its use on the show in the past. He had previously signed a release with the show’s producers when a cast member wore his shirt but said that wasn’t the case with the jacket, something he chalked up to an oversight on the show’s part. Lawyers for the show now claim that oversight actually was “implied consent” by Concannon, something with which he strongly disagrees.
The lawsuit claimed, “Concannon never granted Netflix a license to display the jacket on the show (as he had in previous instances where his works were featured on the show), and he certainly never agreed to allow LEGO — the largest toy company in the world, with over $5 billion in annual revenue — to commercially exploit his artwork for free.”
“It's frustrating to see LEGO paying out huge licenses to major brands like Star Wars and Harry Potter, but stop short of paying working artists whose livelihoods actually depend on the income they make off their creations," Concannon told Law360 last December.
The lawsuit claims LEGO admitted it “intentionally copied the Concannon Jacket when it developed the Fab 5 Loft set,” but that the company did not offer any compensation other than a subsequently withdrawn offer of a free loft set for Concannon’s son.
Concannon, who suffers from Type I diabetes and requires an insulin pump, said lawyers mocked the sincerity of his case and motivation, noting they claimed to have “listened to Concannon’s recorded calls with LEGO’s customer service team and insultingly suggested that Concannon was only asserting his legal rights after the fact because he was upset that he never received his free LEGO set in the mail.”
The set, which came out on October 1 of last year and retails for $99.99, includes detailed mini-figures of the Fab Five guys, Karamo, Jonathan, Antoni, Bobby, and Tan, dog Bruley, and recreates the group’s original Atlanta loft from the show.