Artist Slapped With Trademark Infringement Claim By Nestlé

A screenshot of Anthony Antonelli's www.polandspringbornbetter.com

Is it just us or is using mineral water bottles as art a coming trend? (See Downton Abbey Promo Photo Features Wayward Plastic Bottle.) Artist Pamela Rosenkranz did it and now, reports ArtFCity, so has artist Anthony Antonellis, and he’s running into some legal troubles.

Nestlé Water North America claims that Antonellis has violated Trademark law with his website www.polandspringbornbetter.com. The conglomerate maintains that average customers can’t tell the difference between their bottled water and the product Antonellis sells via his URL; this is partly because the artist purchased an old domain that was once owned by the water retailer (though the retailer didn’t renew).

The cease-and-desist letter from Nestlé requests that he refrain from renewing his website’s domain, the company warns his site “improperly uses our trademarks and is likely to lead consumers to believe that the site is somehow affiliated with or endorsed by Nestlé.”

Antonellis told ArtFCity “not one person” has accidentally purchased his $300 Poland Spring Power Balance sculptures thinking they were purchasing a product from Nestlé. The sculptures the artist sells are Poland Spring bottles, still filled with their original mineral water, but with power balance rubber bands (a sports accessory) placed inside of them. He adds the “site and work were meant to be tongue-in-cheek.” Indeed, his website doesn’t seem to bear any resemblance to the water company’s own website.

The Art Law Blog‘s Donn Zaretsky explains to ArtFCity how viewers might be confused when visiting Antonellis’s site: “The issue in cases like this is what’s the likelihood of confusion, and in this case–given the lack of informational context at the site–you can imagine people might assume this is an authorized Poland Springs project.”

Zaretsky’s advice for Antonellis is: “prominent disclaimers might be helpful.”


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