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End Game: Butt Sketch Artist Sues For Trademark Infringement

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on July 14, 2010 7:12 AM

The puns are so ripe for the picking on this one, that even the NBC News report leads off with a "Duke of Derrier" quip. So, in the spirit of perversity, this blog will give it to you straight on, so to speak, and keep the pun count in the low single digits for a change. Here it is: the originator of the "Original Butt Sketch" is taking what he says is a copycat artist to court to protect his good name. And all his other parts.

According to said NBC News report, artist Krandel Lee Newton sketched a backside for the very first time on a Dallas street corner lo, these 21 years ago. Fame and fortune and trademark infringement followed. From this has grown a veritable empire of butt sketching, with Newton traveling the world to capture for people of all shapes and sizes a side of themselves they rarely see. As the artist said, "it's really been propelled by the people."

So how is this bottomless paradise of art being threatened? In a very "All About Eve" sort of way. According to NBC, a former associate (could we say protégé?) is taking Newton's idea and using it for his own ends. According to Newton, a fellow butt artiste by the name of Michael Bergenholtz has not only used the name, but he marketed it on his website without Newton's permission. Newton says he patented the name "Original Butt Sketch" in 1989, so control over it should be his alone.

Although one cannot patent a name, we will forgive him this tiny misnomer as he is an artist, and not a lawyer. What Newton has done, with the assistance of an actual attorney, is file a trademark infringement suit against Mikey B's Perfect Image, LLC and offending associate Michael Bergenholtz in Texas Northern District Court. As is often a key with trademark suits, Newton wants to control how the image of his brand is projected. "The focus of what we do in our business is to have fun. We do it in a certain way and not trying to overreach here, but we do it a certain quality," Newton told NBC. The subject of the sketches can be a little sensitive, so it has to be approached a certain way, he noted.

Please understand that it is not that Newton is overly booty-litigious (sorry Beyoncé), he is just defending his art. "It's just protecting a business, nothing more than that," he said.

Pun count: 4

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