US artist claims damages from Turkish company over replicated sculpture

US artist claims damages from Turkish company over replicated sculpture

Dinçer Gökçe – ISTANBUL
US artist claims damages from Turkish company over replicated sculpture

A U.S. artist has sued a Turkish company for copyright infringement after it made a sculpture that looked exactly the same as one of his pieces.

Anthony Howe, an American kinetic artist who creates wind-driven sculptures, has filed a lawsuit for damages against the southern province of Mersin’s Metropolitan Municipality on grounds that the “Dream Breeze” sculpture in the city’s marina is a copy of his work “Di-Octo.”

The Mersin Metropolitan Municipality had lodged a tender in 2017 for the construction of a sculpture to be placed in a park right at the entrance of the city’s marina.

An Ankara-based company called Park Kent Furniture Inc. Co. won the tender and bought the said sculpture from another Ankara-based construction company called Ar-Yen for 354,000 Turkish Liras (about $63,000).

The 11-meter-high sculpture was placed by the furniture company at the relevant park. But another bidder company in the tender noticed the sculpture’s resemblance to Howe’s piece, notifying the artist.

Howe started working with a law firm in the metropolis Istanbul and filed a lawsuit in Mersin’s Civil Court of Peace.

Following the court’s decree, the artist filed a lawsuit for damages in an Ankara court for intellectual property rights against Mersin Municipality.

The municipality stressed in its statement that the lawsuit should be of the contractor company’s concern as they were not aware of the situation.

The contractor company, Park Kent Inc. Co, in its defense, said the company Ar-Yen was to be blamed as they had bought the structure from them.

“We purchased the sculpture in dispute from Ar-Yen Engineering Construction. We are a third party to this case and not the party responsible for the breach,” the contractor company stated, adding that Howe is attempting to acquire unlawful profit.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing company Ar-Yen claimed that their sculpture is original and authentic. “Our sculpture works with an engine, while the plaintiff’s works with wind power. His work has 16 wings, while ours has 30. The sculpture is original and authentic,” Ar-Yen said in its statement.

But a report issued by a panel of experts assigned by the court stated that both sculptures in question “are indiscernibly alike” and Howe has the right to claim copyright and damages. The report also said 871,233 Turkish Liras (approximately $154,000) in non-pecuniary damages should be paid to Howe for copyright infringement.

The last hearing of the case was held on March 5, with the court ordering another viewing.

The next hearing will take place in June.