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California Dali museum named in intellectual property lawsuit

His most recognizable painting might well the “The Persistence of Memory” with its melting watches. It’s time for a California museum to stop using Salvador Dali’s name and likeness and to stop selling items that include reproductions of his art, says Spain’s Dalí Foundation.

The foundation claims in its intellectual property lawsuit that it owns the rights to the artist’s name and likeness. It also says that by selling items using the surrealist art icon’s work, image and name the Monterrey museum is “infringing on the Foundation’s intellectual property and publicity rights.”

The 14-page legal claim was filed in federal court, according to news accounts. Dali, who died in 1989, established the foundation, based in Figueres, Spain, to protect his name and life’s work, the lawsuit states.

The Dali museum in Monterrey was opened two years ago by Dmitry Piterman, a man described as a “real estate mogul” by the San Francisco Chronicle. He used to operate a maritime museum, but abandoned that venture when sales of model boats flagged.

The Spanish foundation is demanding that Piterman “deliver up for destruction all products and merchandise” sold in his facility’s store, including melted clocks ($30), Dali coloring books ($20), Dali coffee beans ($13) and, of course, t-shirts (ranging from $25 to $33).

A UC Hastings School of Law civil litigation professor said the lawsuit might well have merit and that Piterman “may well have a problem.”

If you have questions about IP protection, contact an attorney experienced in copyright infringement, trademark infringement and patent litigation defense.