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Artist Sues Ellen DeGeneres and Walmart Over 'Love' Clothing Design

Julian Rivera's design and Ellen's clothing line

Julian Rivera claims his design was stolen.

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Not everyone is in love with Ellen DeGeneres's EV1 clothing line at Walmart.

In fact, artist Julian Rivera is suing the lesbian talk show host and the retail corporation for copyright infringement, reports The Hollywood Reporter. He alleges his "love" design -- in which the text of this word is incorporated into the shape of a heart -- was copied without his permission.

The complaint states that the alleged use of Rivera's design in a corporate campaign diminishes the value of his art and his reputation as an artist.

"Despite offers, he has very rarely made his original art available as part of corporate advertising campaigns -- partly for artistic reasons but also because doing so would diminish the value of his work," states the complaint written by attorney Jeffrey Gluck.

"Indeed, nothing is more antithetical to a street artist's credibility than association with mass-market consumerism -- of which Walmart is the epitome. People who recognized his Design in the EV1 Collection would have concluded that Rivera 'sold out,' diminishing the value of his work and reputation."

According to the complaint, Rivera created his design in 2011 and applied to the copyright office in 2013. Since then, he has created a variety of artworks and consumer products featuring the design that are sold through his online store.

The artist said he sent a cease-and-desist letter to Walmart in May, but the retail giant's lawyers asserted that the company "had not copied the Design ... and that the Design was only minimally creative."

Rivera is seeking monetary damages and the removal of clothing imprinted with the design from the marketplace.

A spokesperson for Walmart sent the following statement to The Hollywood Reporter: "Walmart is an intellectual property owner and respects the intellectual property rights of others. Once we are served with the complaint, we will respond appropriately with the court."

Walmart has received a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index -- but its LGBTQ record in the past has been far from perfect. In 2002, the first year of the CEI, Walmart scored 14 out of a possible 100; in 2008, it scored 40; in 2016, it scored 90. Just in 2018, the nonprofit suspended Walmart's score after multiple instances of anti-LGBTQ discrimination at the company were brought to light.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.