Philip Morris just sent artist Brad Troemel a cease and desist letter to take down his Etsy art, particularly “dean & deluca low calorie snack inside Marlboro box w/ Cerebral Palsy Tissue/Organ Kidney Cancer Green Ribbon Glittery Sticker (Ethical) ½” and “ORGANIC STRAWBERRY wafers in MARLBORO box” for infringement. Because obviously, those look like official Marlboro products. Clearly.
Here’s the cease and desist via Art Fag City:
As shown in Exhibit A, the Infringing Products feature the exact MARLBORO© word mark and Trade Dress. Your use of the MARLBORO© Marks in this manner demonstrates that intended to replicate PM USA’s Marks. Your conduct is thus calculated to mislead consumers into believing that PM USA endorses, sponsors, licences or otherwise is affiliated with you and the Infringing Products.
Further, your conduct harms the MARLBORO© brand by targeting the Infringing Products to “Teen Girls,” which falsely implies that PM USA markets its products to youth.
Naturally. Let’s just assume that no one at Philip Morris genuinely feels that anyone would think Marlboro is really selling these conceptual ha-has in cigarette cartons. Nor that Malboro is marketing to youth via “strawberry wafers.”
Is Philip Morris using the copyright issue to shut down art that may be playfully critiquing the product? Thou shall not consider nor interpret PM USA products! Thou shall not garland PM iconography with tongue-in-cheek teen-themed flair, lest people start thinking too much about PM’s real marketing strategy and commercial aesthetics and money and life and whatnot.