Monday March 6, 2006 – Artist Robb Havassy filed a lawsuit earlier today against clothing giant Abercrombie and Fitch for allegedly using his artwork without his express permission, according to a release put out by Havassy. Abercrombie and Fitch purportedly copied a surfboard with artwork by Havassy for use as a display and point-of-purchase promotion in Abercrombie and Fitch stores promoting their “surf” themed clothing line “Hollister” nationwide. The displays include Havassy’s signature.
These boards have been used in Hollister stores since the brand’s inception to convey a “surf style aesthetic” for the Ohio based company. The damages sought by Havassy will be for unauthorized use of artwork and identity in promoting the Hollister line of clothing. “It’s frustrating on a number of levels to have had control over my work taken away from me, and then be associated with a company that I wouldn’t choose to work with under normal circumstances” explains Havassy, “Especially considering the reflection it casts on me with respect to the companies that have legitimately supported and promoted me and my art worldwide.”
Havassy, a successful artist in the surf community, has also been involved in recent years with SIMA, Heal the Bay and Surf Aid International, helping to raise environmental awareness by donating time and money to the causes. Having to deal with this type of infringement is difficult for a figure so ingrained in the industry, as partnering up with a landlocked organization would obviously adversely affect his credibility in the surfing industry. Says Havassy, “It’s my hope that whatever compensation I might receive for this unauthorized use of my artwork will allow me to invest back into the legitimate surf industry and community.”