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Artist to McDonald's: You misappropriated my stuff, so pay up

Any law professor teaching a course in intellectual property would likely be thankful to anyone who points him or her in the direction of a property-related spat that is currently ongoing between widely known street artist Eric Rosenbaum and global burger giant McDonald's.

Even a cursory look into the details of the tiff -- which is now formally spelled out in a lawsuit recently filed by Rosenbaum in a Los Angeles federal court -- quickly reveals that fundamental and broad-based intellectual property considerations are at center stage.

If you don't know Rosenbaum, you might have heard of Norm, who commands a global audience interested in his graffiti, tattoos and other art. That name is Rosenbaum's shorthand designation for his artistic persona.

What piques Norm, as clearly expressed in his trademark and copyright infringement litigation filed against McDonald's, is the burger chain's alleged misappropriation of his work in franchised restaurants across Asia and Europe. Norm's complaint calls McDonald's use of his mental creations "blatant, unlawful, and pervasive copying and use."

Unsurprisingly, Norm wants that use stopped immediately.

And -- equally unsurprising -- he wants to be paid for the unauthorized use of his work that he says is manifestly apparent in high numbers of McDonald's restaurants operating internationally.

About $10 million might atone for McDonald's misappropriation, Norm has implied. The artist says he has lost at least that much money through contracts he would have been able to execute with other parties but for McDonald's unlicensed use of his work.

Norm says that he understands commercial entities wanting to "capitalize on [his] artwork, celebrity and persona."

As his lawsuit makes quite clear, he just wants them to pay for the privilege.

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