Saturday, June 10, 2023

Campbell’s Soup Licenses Images from Warhol

Yes, you heard right. 50 years after Warhol’s first show at the LA-based Ferus Gallery, where he first unveiled the Campbell Soup paintings, Campbell’s is licensing the right to make derivative works based on four of Warhol’s Campbell Soup paintings. Campbell’s is using the four “derivative” images as labels to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Warhol’s first solo show at Ferus. The new cans will be sold at most Target stores nationwide for 75 cents per can.

Mike Madison wonders, “[i]t’s unclear to me what, exactly, is being licensed[,]” wondering if “style” can be licensed. True enough. If Campbell’s already owns the copyright and trademarks to the Campbell’s Soup label and logo, they don’t need to ask anyone for permission to use their own image, much less a license. I wonder, can an artistic “style” be protected by trademark, or trade dress?

Perhaps Campbell’s intends to promote their cans using Warhol’s image and name, so that may be a factor.  But, I wonder if this is more of a publicity stunt by both Campbell’s and the Warhol Foundation, with a strong pro-licensing bent to boot. Get it? No need for cease-and-desists and copyright litigation; just pay to play and all will be alright. What do you think?

More via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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