NY graffiti artist Patrick Waldo claims Zara stole his design and turned it into a $17 T-shirt

New York graffiti artist claims Zara stole his design and turned it into a $17 T-shirt

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UPDATED:

19:24 GMT, 6 September 2012

Zara's reputation for appropriating illegal street art for its own profit is as notorious as the graffiti tags the retail chain turns into mass produced T-shirts.

The latest victim, Patrick Waldo, is a New York-based street artist claiming that Zara copied, and then printed his iconic art onto a new batch of $16.90 T-shirts.

Mr Waldo spent over a year writing his signature tag 'moustache' on glamorous New York City subway ads until he was arrested in 2011, but when he saw a Zara T-shirt featuring a skull augmented with a similar moustache, he says he quickly recognised his work.

From the street to T-shirt: Patrick Waldo is a New York-based street artist claiming that Zara copied his iconic tag on New york City subway ads (left) for a new batch of $16.90 T-shirts (right)

From the street to T-shirt: Patrick Waldo is a New York-based street artist claiming that Zara copied his iconic tag on New york City subway ads (left) for a new batch of $16.90 T-shirts (right)

From the street to T-shirt: Patrick Waldo is a New York-based
street artist claiming that Zara copied his iconic tag on New york City subway ads (left)
for a new batch of $16.90 T-shirts (right)

Mr Waldo told The Huffington Post: 'I came up with the idea [for my graffiti] in March 2010. I was at a subway station in Times Square and I saw an ad on the platform that from far away looked like it had a moustache drawn on it.

'As I got closer, I realized some graffiti writer had just tagged his name on the actor's face. I figured if there was gonna be any text on someone's upper lip, it should just say “moustache,”' he explained.

'I went home and practiced on magazine ads, came back a few nights later with a Sharpie, and started drawing “moustaches” on every ad I saw. I didn't stop until the NYPD arrested me in June 2011.'

Bridesmaid revisited: Mr Waldo spent over a year writing his signature tag 'moustache' on glamorous New York City subway ads until he was arrested in 2011

Bridesmaid revisited: Mr Waldo spent over a year writing his signature tag 'moustache' on glamorous New York City subway ads until he was arrested in 2011

Humorous side: The artist is an aspiring comedian and will his story in a one-man comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater on September 19th, called Moustache Man: Confessions of a Graffiti Artist

Humorous side: The artist is an aspiring comedian and will his story in a one-man comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater on September 19th, called Moustache Man: Confessions of a Graffiti Artist

Subway faces: Mr Waldo's 'moustache' tag became iconic to any New Yorker who caught the subway in 2011

Subway faces: Mr Waldo's 'moustache' tag became iconic to any New Yorker who caught the subway in 2011

Mr Waldo, an aspiring comedian who is telling his story in a one-man comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater on September 19th, called Moustache Man: Confessions of a Graffiti Artist, believes his work, illegal or not, is his intellectual property which Zara should compensate him for.

'There's no doubt in my mind that Zara stole my design,' he said.

The artist: Patrick Waldo, once the video editor at The Huffington Post, is an aspiring comedian and New York City tour guide

The artist: Patrick Waldo, once the video editor at The Huffington Post, is an aspiring comedian and New York City tour guide

'It's not as if I came up with the idea and then kept it to myself. I put my moustache on thousands of posters all over New York City for well over a year. They got press before I was arrested.'

'I didn't go to jail to have some chain store steal my work.'

This isn't the fist time Zara has faced similar allegations. In 2010, a French fashion blogger claimed the retail chain took photos from her blog, Pandora, turning them into life-like illustrations which were then printed on a series of T-shirts.

And 2007, another street artist says Zara stole his designs which were on a wall in Italy, reprinting the wall set-up onto another batch of T-shirts.

While Copyright and Trademark law differ between Europe and the U.S. (Europe design is protected much more rigorously), it is possible Mr Waldo's moustache tag, or 'logo', may be protected under Trademark law, however it would first need to meet certain specific requirements of recognisability.

Mr Waldo, who is confident Zara's T-shirts aren't just case of creative coincidence, tweeted to the retail chain, writing: 'hey @ZARA, i moustache you a question. did you think i wouldn't notice that you stole my work