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Court orders organisers to stop Kaws:Holiday exhibition amid legal wrangle over alleged IP breach

SINGAPORE — The organiser of the Kaws:Holiday Singapore exhibition at the Float@Marina Bay was on Saturday (Nov 13) served a court order to stop the exhibition and any sale or distribution of merchandise related to it, a day before it is scheduled to open to the public.

Court orders organisers to stop Kaws:Holiday exhibition amid legal wrangle over alleged IP breach

The organiser of the Kaws:Holiday Singapore exhibition at the Float@Marina Bay was on Nov 13, 2021 served a court order to stop the exhibition.

  • The 42m-long giant inflatable installation is scheduled to be displayed until Nov 21
  • Under the court order, the organisers have to stop the exhibition and any sale or distribution of merchandise related to it
  • They also have to halt all advertising and publicity on the exhibition 
  • The order was filed by a Singapore non-profit over an alleged breach of intellectual-property rights and breach of confidence
  • The organisers said that the allegations were groundless and they planned to challenge the order

 

SINGAPORE — The organiser of the Kaws:Holiday Singapore exhibition at the Float@Marina Bay was on Saturday (Nov 13) served a court order to stop the exhibition and any sale or distribution of merchandise related to it, a day before it is scheduled to open to the public. 

Singapore non-profit arts organisation The Ryan Foundation has sued the exhibition's Hong Kong-based organisers, AllRightsReserved, for an alleged breach of the foundation’s intellectual-property rights as well as a breach of confidence.

In response, AllRightsReserved called the allegations “groundless” and said that the company was in the process of seeking urgent legal advice to challenge the order.  

The 42m-long giant inflatable installation by American artist Kaws is on its seventh stop after tours in places such as South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. 

Based on the court order seen by TODAY, the organisers have also been ordered to stop all advertising and publicity on the exhibition.

The artist Brian Donnelly, who is better known as Kaws, said in a statement that he has no contractual agreement with The Ryan Foundation and that the allegations were baseless. 

AllRightsReserved added that the groundless allegations were made by a third party trying to “cause interruption” to the exhibition, and it apologised for any inconvenience this has caused. 

“Our company is in the process of seeking urgent legal advice and will apply to court to challenge the prohibitory injunction order,” its spokesperson said. 

“Our company takes this incident very seriously and will take all possible steps to ensure that this exhibition can progress in accordance with the laws of Singapore.” 

The 42m-long inflatable sculpture by American artist Kaws lying on top of The Float @ Marina Bay. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

When contacted, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), which supports the exhibition, said that it was aware of the injunction against AllRightsReserved. 

“We understand the organisers are exploring all options,” said STB, without elaborating. 

It remains unclear if the exhibition would go ahead. 

When TODAY arrived at the Float@Marina Bay at about 8.40pm on Saturday, the artwork was still intact and there were no signs that it would be taken down. By 10pm, it was still resting on the floating platform.

Then, early on Sunday morning, the organisers said that the venue of the artwork had been closed temporarily.

The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post daily reported that The Ryan Foundation had started discussions with AllRightsReserved in 2019 to bring the inflatable figures to Singapore.

It also reported that the foundation claimed to have introduced AllRightsReserved to Singapore government contacts and said that it came up with design ideas for the merchandise, before the project was aborted.

Mr Ryan Su, founding director of The Ryan Foundation, which has sued the organisers of the Kaws:Holiday exhibition for an alleged breach of the foundation’s intellectual-property rights as well as a breach of confidence. Photo: Ili Nadhirah Mansor/TODAY

Mr Ryan Su, founding director of The Ryan Foundation, told TODAY that the foundation received the injunction papers on Friday night, and they were served on AllRightsReserved at 4.20pm on Saturday. 

“But up to 7.30pm, they have still continued with the exhibition… and they still let people in to look around,” said Mr Su. 

He added that because of this, he plans to file contempt-of-court papers against the organisers for failing to take down the artwork. 

He said that he could not elaborate on the details of the injunction as the matter is before the courts. 

The artwork is a large inflatable figure of the artist Kaws’ iconic character Companion hugging a mini-version of itself. 

The artwork is a large inflatable figure of the artist Kaws’ iconic character Companion hugging a mini-version of itself. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

The artist Brian Donnelly, who is based in the United States, has seen his signature character displayed around the world.

The exhibition is scheduled to open to the public on Sunday and run until Nov 21. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ILI NADHIRAH MANSOR

Related topics

Kaws:Holiday Kaws Float@Marina Bay STB court

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