“Its alive!” Well, this copyright dispute is. A tattoo artist has filed a copyright infringement action against a restaurant over the unauthorized use of “his” monocled Frankenstein image but the case is further complicated since both images are based off of Universal’s Frankenstein.

![](https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/Frankenstein's_monster_(Boris_Karloff).jpg)
Universal’s classic Frankenstein image.
The look that we all associate with Frankenstein (technically Frankenstein’s monster but for brevity’s sake we are just keeping his common name) did not come from the pages of the book by Mary Shelley first published in 1818. The classic image of the tall monster with a flat head, sunken cheekbones, neck bolts, and scars was created for Universal’s classic 1931 movie, *Frankenstein*. The character was played by Boris Karloff and got his dead look with a little help from Karloff removing his dental work. Unlike Shelley’s book, the movie and the images associated with the movie, are not yet in the public domain are therefore still controlled by Universal. Copyright is granted to a creation when it is fixed it a medium. That medium doesn’t have to be paper or film but can be the human skin in the form of a tattoo. Roger LaDouceur is a tattoo artist out of Virginia that created his monster on a customer’s leg in 2013. LaDouceur is the “sole and exclusive author of the original tattoo” (note that because it will be discussed further) that can be seen to the left below. In the copyright registration, LaDouceur concedes that his image was based off of Universal’s monster. Plaintiff claims that in Halloween 2014, a Virginia restaurant, Macado’s, copied his image and used it in advertisements and promotions like the glass that can be seen in the image below. LaDouceur seeks damages, attorneys’ fees and destruction of the remaining materials bearing the Frankenstein’s image. Seems like this is an open and shut case but it is not. When looking at the two images below, yes they appear to be substantially similar but is this because they are both based off of Universal’s images that can seen above? Clearly both plaintiff and defendant copied Universal’s image, most likely without permission. Although never mentioned in the complaint, plaintiff’s work is not original but a derivative of Universal’s image; plaintiff merely added a monocle to the design and cannot claim protection in the look of Universal’s Frankenstein. When looking at the sole original element of the design, the monocle, are they substantially similar? One appears to have beads and the other a rope dangling off of them and the look of a monocle in both is pretty standard. This is not a clean cut win and if Macado’s decides to fight, it has a viable defense. Now the question is, will Universal come knocking with a copyright complaint of their own? ![franks](http://piratedthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/franks.png)