UK Photographer Sues Trump Campaign for Copyright Infringement Over Skittles Tweet

He calls the ad "reprehensible".

Donald Trump. Courtesy Steve Pope/Getty Images.
Donald Trump. Courtesy Steve Pope/Getty Images.

A British photographer is suing both Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr., as well as other members of the Trump campaign including vice presidential candiate Mike Pence, over controversial tweets involving a bowl of Skittles.

David Kittos filed suit on October 18 in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois alleging “wrongful acts of copyright infringement.” The complaint describes tweets made by Donald Trump Jr. in mid-September, in which he allegedly used an unauthorized copy of Kittos’ photograph as part of an online advertisement for the “Trump Pence” campaign.


Trump Jr. tweeted the advertisement with the text: “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”

An additional tweet from Trump Jr., read: “This image says it all. Let’s end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first.”

Kittos took the photo in 2010, and claims that the lighting and placement of the individual pieces of candy allow “their bright and boastful colors to become the centerpiece of the image.” He continues, “It would be beyond difficult to accurately recreate such a vivid image given the challenge of replicating the exact lighting and exposure of the image, as well as assembling the arrangement of the candies.”

Kittos calls the photo an original work of authorship that is protected under the US Copyright Act and further notes it was posted to his personal Flickr account with all rights reserved.


The ad, as the complaint notes, gained “significant attention throughout the media” and the Trump campaign should have known that Kittos “did not authorize or approve” of the photo. The ad remained on the Trump Jr’s Twitter account until about September 27, when Kittos’ counsel contacted Twitter and demanded that it be removed.

His complaint further notes that the ad is is “reprehensibly offensive to Plaintiff as he is a refugee of the Republic of Cyprus who was forced to flee his home at the age of six years old.”

As Denise Young, a Skittles representative, said in the statement: “Skittles are candy. Refugees are people.”

No monetary amount is specified in the lawsuit, but Kittos says he is entitled to “actual damages and the Defendants’ additional profits, direct or indirect, attributable” to the image.

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