Mercedes Benz USA (MBUSA) recently sued street artist and Canada resident Daniel Bombardier a/k/a DENIAL. What happened was that back around January 2018, MBUSA photographed several of its vehicles in the Detroit area. Murals by local artists, including DENIAL, were captured in some of these photographs. MBUSA posted these photographs in its Instagram account. Around March of 2019, the DENIAL contacted MBUSA claiming that that photographs constituted copyright infringement and demanded monetary damages. MBUSA removed the photographs from its Instagram account and then on March 29, 2019, sued DENIAL in Federal Court in Michigan. In the lawsuit, MBUSA was asking for relief from the court, namely a declaration from the Court that MBUSA did not infringe DENIAL’s copyrighted works.
DENIAL probably has a good claim of copyright infringement. However, I wonder if DENIAL was prepared to be almost immediately sued in a US Federal Court, even though he lives in Canada? I always counsel my clients, that when sending a cease and desist, or demand letter to a possible patent, trademark, or copyright infringer, there is a chance the infringer will turn around and sue my client in a court that is convenient to the infringer, and inconvenient to my client. Therefore, be careful when sending demand letters, you could be sued yourself, even though you believe you are the one who has been wronged. The MBUSA vs. Bombardier lawsuit can be found here.