Mike Tyson's infamous Maori-inspired tribal tattoo is back in the spotlight. Tyson's tattoo artist is suing Warner Brothers on the grounds that the studio committed "reckless copyright infringement" when it allowed the well-known marking to appear on the face of Ed Helms' character in the upcoming Hangover sequel. The lawsuit, filed in St. Louis federal court, asks that WB not display the tattoo in the film and strike it from all marketing materials, the New York Times reports. That would likely delay the movie's launch and cost WB lots of money.
Legal experts say suits like these are likely to become common as more celebrities ink their bodies with designs that might lend themselves to imitation. Already, sports stars Rasheed Wallace and David Beckham have endured disputes about drawing explicit attention to their tats in marketing campaigns. WB contends it was entitled to use the tattoo under the "fair use" provision of US copyright law, citing the clause that permits use for parody. The rub, as one copyright and patents expert points out, is that WB plans to profit from using the symbol. The suit will be taken up next week. (Click to see whose cameo in the Hangover II was recently cut from the film, or here to watch the full trailer.)