Lego sued for copying Queer Eye leather jacket worn by Canadian star Antoni Porowski

Designer claims motorcycle jacket design worn by Porowski is copyrighted and permission to recreate it was not sought

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Antoni Porowski, the Canadian chef, actor, model, author and cast member of Queer Eye, often wears slogan t-shirts on the show, as well as a black leather motorcycle jacket adorned with white illustrations of “propaganda style”.

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Antoni Powarski
Antoni Powarski Photo by Getty Images

The “graffiti” on the jacket was designed for him by James Concannon.

Concannon, who owns the copyright to the design, is now suing Lego for recreating the white illustration of the jacket without his permission.

Porowski has long been a fan of the creator’s work, and Concannon says that Netflix, since 2017, has asked him for permission to use his clothes in the show. He says he always agreed. On each occasion, the producers asked her for permission to show the clothes in various episodes, as well as in advertising on Queer Eye.

The back of the original jacket and the Lego version.
The back of the original jacket and the Lego version. Photo taken by the United States District Court in Connecticut

Thanks to exchanges on social networks about the creations, Concannon and Porowski became friends and he gifted other creations to the Canadian.

Porowski wore the jacket in an episode of the fourth season, in 2019, but the show did not seek permission from the creator. But Concannon dropped oblivion, given that they had consistently sought his approval in the past and for later uses.

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It wasn’t until he saw the Queer Eye Fab 5 Loft toy set selling for $99.99 at a retailer that he got in touch with the Danish toy company. He says in the suit that “although he admitted to intentionally copying the Concannon jacket when he developed the Fab 5 loft set, Lego did not offer to compensate Concannon for copying his creation, did not asked Concannon for permission to copy his creation, and did not give Concannon any credit when he copied his creation.

The box of the toy set is shown in the lawsuit as part of his claim that Lego used the copy of the jacket for marketing purposes.

Lego also used Antoni's character's jacket in their design of the toy box.
Lego also used Antoni’s character’s jacket in their design of the toy box. Photo taken by the United States District Court in Connecticut

The designer, who is seeking damages, says in the filing that the jacket on the Porowski figure “blatantly” copies “the unique placement, coordination, and arrangement of individual artistic elements” on the original jacket. A Lego designer says in a video that Porowski has a “really iconic leather jacket that we’ve remade into a Lego version.”

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Porowski, the show’s food and wine expert, bought the jacket himself and in 2018 sent it to Concannon to have a custom design created on it. The designer added his “propaganda-soaked aesthetic” to it and returned it to Porowski.

When Concannon called Lego to complain, rather than compensate him for his design, he says a company representative instead offered to send him a loft for his six-year-old son. But then another rep even took that away from him, saying that Lego doesn’t give away their products. Concannon’s attorney then sent Lego a cease and desist order “in which he demanded that Lego take seriously its intellectual property rights as a working artist”.

And what he heard back insulted Colcannon enough to continue. Lawyers for the toy company suggested he was upset only because he hadn’t received his free toy set.

He is therefore suing the largest toy company in the world, to hold it responsible for such a “shameful theft”. But Lego says that because Concannon gave the jacket to Porowski, it meant Netflix had “implied license” to do whatever it wanted with the design, including allowing Lego to recreate it.

A dollar amount for damages to Colcannon’s “business, reputation and goodwill” will be decided if and when the case goes to trial.

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