Saturday, April 25, 2009

Picasso: The value of a name?

Apparently there has been a lengthy battle over Picasso’s name in the UK. It started when Manders Paints, owned by Dougie Urquhart, decided to introduce a line of paints called Picasso Tint to Taste. The estate of Pablo Picasso quickly took legal action in order to prevent Manders Paint from using the family name on their products. The verdict is in-- Picasso lost.
The case has been described as a landmark ruling due to the fact that only Dougie Urquhart’s company, Manders Paints, can use the name Picasso as a brand name for UK based painting products. Needless to say, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has sided with Manders Paints on the issue. However, the Picasso estate has appealed in the past-- so it is likely that they will continue to fight for their namesake.
The Picasso estate argued that the use of the name ‘Picasso’ without their consent amounted to exploitation by Dougie Urquhart and his company. In other words, they feel that the only reason Urquhart desires to use the name is due to the commercial value it has for his specific market-- products for painters. That said, Urquhart’s legal team pointed out that names of other famous painters, such as Renoir and Matisse, have been registered as trademarks with or without the consent of those respected families.
The Picasso estate is known for adamantly defending Pablo Picasso’s name and art. In fact, the movie Surviving Picasso (1996 Merchant Ivory Productions) experienced the wrath of the Picasso family during production. The producers were unable to obtain permission to feature replicas of Picasso’s art on the set. From what I’ve read the only painting in Surviving Picasso that is based on an authentic Picasso painting is the scene where Picasso, played by Anthony Hopkins, creates a section of Guernica-- though the scene is filmed in a way as to make the image only slightly visible.
This case involving Manders Paints and the Picasso estate begs the question-- what is the value of a name? I suspect that eventually we will see other art products named after artists. Perhaps in the future one will be able to purchase Hirst Black, Fairey Red, or Koons Blue. That said, is the last name of the artist as important as the visual legacy he or she leaves behind? Does commercial use of an artists name without his or her consent-- or estate consent-- harm the market for his or her art? What is the value of a name? Thoughts?

Link of Interest:

UK paint firm wins Picasso battle
Manders Paints
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Anonymous said...

The Picasso's need to let go of their iron grip. His family often bashes him for being cruel but are really quick to protect the use of his name. Looks like old Pablo still has his family caught in the maze.

PeterinScotland said...

How did Manders go from being owned by a multinational, PPG, to being owned by an individual (Dougie Urquhart)? When did PPG or SigmaKalon stop using the Manders brand? Has Manders and related business now closed?