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20/05/02 . By ED JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer . Yahoo! News . LONDON
Cartoonist sues fast food giant McDonald's over alleged copyright infringement.
A commercial artist who claims he created a new look for McDonald's promotional characters such as Ronald McDonald and Hamburglar is suing the fast food chain for alleged breach of copyright, his lawyers said Monday.
Designer and cartoonist Donald Evans did free-lance work for the fast food giant from 1986 to 2000. According to a writ filed at the High Court in London, he redesigned many of the company's characters and created several new ones.
Evans claims McDonald's Restaurants Ltd., the U.K. subsidiary of the global company, reproduced or authorized the reproduction of some of the images without his permission, thus infringing his copyright.
Intellectual property partner Robert Barry at the law firm Allen & Overy, which is representing Evans, said in a statement Monday that his client had a "long relationship" with McDonald's.
"This is a very interesting case as it concerns ownership in images of characters which have become worldwide corporate icons of McDonald's," Barry said.
The company said Monday it would fight the claim.
Amanda Pierce, media relations manager for McDonald's Restaurants Ltd., said: "We will be contesting the claim. The matter is subject to court proceedings and we are not able to discuss it further at this stage."
According to the writ, Evans began working for the company in early 1986, "developed and redrew" each of the McDonald's characters and created "substantially altered and improved drawings and designs."
These characters were used on murals, wallpaper, decorated roller blinds and special tables designed, manufactured and installed by Evans, the writ says.
But it alleges that Evans' drawings were also included in a compendium of McDonald's cartoon characters in the United States without his permission. The company then allegedly authorized further reproduction of the drawings at restaurants in the United Kingdom without his permission and without paying him.
The writ did say how much money Evans would sue for, but that during the course of the case he would try to determine how much money he was owed.
Allen & Overy said it had lodged the writ on May 16, and hoped the case would be heard
in court early in several months time.