The Velvet Underground lose copyright claim over iconic banana symbol

Judge dismisses claim by defunct band over rights to the Andy Warhol image from their 1967 album

A New York judge has rejected part of a lawsuit brought by the The Velvet Underground against the the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts over the use of the iconic banana symbol from their 1967 album ‘The Velvet Underground And Nico’.

In January this year, the defunct 1960s band, formed by Lou Reed and John Cale, filed a lawsuit seeking to block its iconic Andy Warhol-designed banana being used on covers for iPads and iPhones after reports that they had agreed to license the design for a series of cases, sleeves and bags.

According to the lawsuit, the group claimed the banana design is synonymous with The Velvet Underground and demanded that Warhol’s foundation stop licensing the image and pay them for past licensing.

According to the Hollywood Reporter a judge has now ruled that the band do not have a valid copyright claim. However, they can continue pursuing the Foundation for trademark infringement – in which they would need to argue the case that the Foundation’s use of the banana causes “confusion as to … affiliation, approval or sponsorship” by the group.

The Warhol Foundation has responded by pointing to the fact that the Velvet Underground broke up in 1972 and that trademarks are only relevant if they are linked to an ongoing business.

In July, The Velvet underground announced that they would reissue the album as part of a six-disc package on October 1 to celebrate its 45th anniversary.