Humpston v. Black et al
Case no. 2:20-cv-10018
United States District Court for the Central District of California
Wesley Humpston sued actor Jack Black, skateboarder Tony Hawk, and skateboard company The Berrics, LLC for copyright infringement of his “BigFoot Graphic” design on skateboards signed by Jack Black in social media posts social media used to promote Activision. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 video game.
Humpston is a graphic designer who began designing artwork for the bottom of skateboards in 1975 and describes himself as “the godfather of skateboard art.”
In his complaint, Humpston says he copyrighted the “BigFoot Graphic” in 2007 with a creation date of 1979, hasn’t licensed its use since 2010, and currently has no license agreement. for use of the design by other parties.
Humpston’s complaint includes screenshots of social media posts that he says were part of a coordinated media campaign to promote Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. The posts include a skateboard with a graphic that Humpston says is a “clear imitation” of his “BigFoot Graphic” and is labeled “BigFoot II” on the graphic itself. In addition to its copyright infringement claim, Humpston alleges that defendants have unjustly enriched themselves through their allegedly infringing use of its “BigFoot Graphic” to promote and increase sales of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. He claims that he is entitled to benefits directly and indirectly attributable to the alleged violation of the “BigFoot Graphic”. Plaintiff also alleges violation of California anti-unfair competition law, arguing that defendants obtained financial benefits while depriving him of compensation.
One issue that will come into play is that because the copyright registration has not been pursued within five years of the work’s first publication, the information contained in the copyright registration will not benefit from the statutory presumption of validity otherwise available under 17 USC § 410. As therefore, the probative value of the certificate of registration shall be at the discretion of the court in this case, and Humpston may be required to provide proof additional rights claimed in the certificate of registration.
Finally, the inclusion of Jack Black in this case (much less as the first named defendant) seems specious and primarily intended for publicity and influence, as it is not clear what his involvement in any alleged offense was. other than to act in accordance with any marketing. agreement he has with the creators of the video game.
We’ll follow up if there are any major developments, but, if Humpston created the original work, we anticipate this case will likely settle, for example, because this case doesn’t involve the actual video game, but only its marketing efforts.