The copyright lawsuit brought against Warner Bros. by S. Victor Whitmill, the tattooist who gave Mike Tyson his Maori-inspired facial tattoo and believed it was illegally reproduced on the face of Ed Helms in The Hangover Part II, will not delay the release of the film. Chief Judge Catherine D. Perry of the Eastern District of Missouri has denied the injunction that would keep the film out of theaters (and cost Warner Bros. millions in marketing). ”We are very gratified by the Court’s decision which will allow the highly anticipated film, The Hangover Part II, to be released on schedule this week around the world,” the studio said in a statement. “Plaintiff’s failed attempt to enjoin the film in order to try and extract a massive settlement payment from Warner Bros. was highly inappropriate and unwarranted.” The case, however, will continue. UPDATE: Whitmill’s attorney Pete Salsich III released the following statement to EW:
The case was not dismissed, it is not over. In fact, while we were disappointed in the court’s immediate ruling on the injunction, overall we are very pleased with today’s result. The court found that Mr. Whitmill successfully proved what are ultimately the most important factors – (1) a “strong likelihood of success on the merits” of our copyright infringement claim, and (2) that Mr. Whitmill has suffered irreparable harm from the loss of control over his artwork. In so doing, she stated on the record that “Most of the defendant’s arguments against this are just silly. Of course tattoos can be copyrighted.”
All Warner Bros. did was survive our preliminary injunction motion. It will be able to open its movie this weekend so that the thousands of innocent movie theater operators will not be harmed. However, the judge ruled that we would be able to pursue a permanent injunction based on our copyright infringement claims, which we intend to do as soon as possible.