Humpston v. Black et al
Case No. 2:20-cv-10018
United States District Court docket for the Central District of California
Wesley Humpston has sued actor Jack Black, skateboarder Tony Hawk, and skateboarding firm The Berrics, LLC for copyright infringement of his “BigFoot Graphic” design on skateboards signed by Jack Black in social media posts used to advertise Activision’s Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater 1+2 online game.
Humpston is a graphic artist who began designing artwork for the underside of skateboards in 1975 and describes himself as “The Godfather of Skateboard Artwork.”
In his grievance, Humpston says that he obtained a copyright for the “BigFoot Graphic” in 2007 with a date of creation of 1979, has not licensed its use since 2010, and at present has no licensing agreements for the design’s use by different events.
Humpston’s grievance contains screenshots of social media posts that he believes have been a part of a coordinated media marketing campaign to advertise Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater 1+2. The posts embody a skateboard with a graphic that Humpston alleges is a “clear imitation” of his “BigFoot Graphic” and is labeled “BigFoot II” on the graphic itself. Along with his copyright infringement declare, Humpston alleges that the defendants have been unjustly enriched via their allegedly infringing use of his “BigFoot Graphic” to advertise and enhance gross sales of Tony Hawk’s Professional Skater 1+2. He claims that he’s entitled to earnings each instantly and not directly attributable to the alleged infringement of the “BigFoot Graphic.” Plaintiff additionally alleges violation of California legislation towards unfair competitors, arguing that the defendants obtained monetary advantages whereas depriving him of compensation.
One problem that can come into play is that, as a result of the copyright registration was not pursued inside 5 years of first publication of the work, the knowledge within the copyright registration is not going to benefit from the statutory presumption of validity in any other case out there beneath 17 U.S.C. § 410. In consequence, the evidentiary weight of the certificates of a registration shall be inside the discretion of the court docket on this case, and Humpston is likely to be required to offer extra proof of the rights claimed within the registration certificates.
Lastly, the inclusion of Jack Black on this case (a lot much less as the primary named defendant) seems specious, and primarily meant for publicity and leverage, as it’s unclear what his participation was in any alleged infringement apart from performing in accordance with no matter advertising and marketing settlement he has with the makers of the online game.
We’ll observe up if there are any main developments, however, if Humpston did create the unique work, we predict this case will doubtless settle, e.g., as a result of this case doesn’t contain the precise online game, however solely its advertising and marketing efforts.