How much is a banana worth? According to legendary rock band The Velvet Underground, it's worth enough to start a lawsuit.
The New York Post reported yesterday that band members Lou Reed and John Cale are suing the Andy Warhol Foundation over its use of of the iconic banana image from the band's debut album, "The Velvet Underground and Nico." The suit, which was filed in a Manhattan federal court, claims that the Foundation illegally licensed the image for use on iPad cases and accessories in an effort to exploit the "goodwill" generated by the group. The filing goes on to say that the Foundation is attempting to "deceive the public" into thinking the products have the approval of The Velvet Underground.
Warhol had served as producer of VU's debut album, and created the banana image from an ad that was in the public domain. Although he never copyrighted the image, the music community widely agrees that it has become a symbol of The Velvet Underground. The band has gone on to note that the image as its logo in a 1995 box set, and licenced its use in 2001 ad for Absolut Vodka. In this case, it appears the band was not consulted. The Andy Warhol Foundation had no comment to The Post regarding the suit.
The use of logos is always a touchy subject legally. A simple image can define an entire organization and groups are very protective of that power. That's why branding is so important for any group or organization.
You can read more about this story in The New York Post.