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OFF BEAT: Velvet Underground back together in court


The Velvet Underground have reunited—sort of.

The iconic New York-based rock group, which broke up in 1973, has filed suit against the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

According to the report, the band has accused the Warhol Foundation of selling reproduction rights of the artist’s famous illustration of a yellow banana, which served as the cover for the Underground’s most recognizable album, “The Velvet Underground and Nico.”

The lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, comes after press reports that Apple Inc. had bought licensing rights to the banana image, intent on applying it to special edition iPads and iPods, the Journal reported.

Neither the band nor the foundation has a trademark registration for the cover art, according to the news report. The band hopes to use “common law” unregistered trademark laws to assert its ownership of the image by proving that the public more closely associates it with the “Nico” album—and the band in general—than with the foundation, the Journal said.

Beyond its own merchandise, the band has pointed to a 2001 Absolut Vodka ad campaign, which featured the banana with the words “Absolut Underground” beneath it.