The Velvet Underground and the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts have settled their lawsuit over the right to control iconic “banana” image from the cover of the 1967 legendary The Velvet Underground and Nico album. An earlier September 7, 2012 ruling for the Warhol Foundation finding that that the Velvet Underground had agreed not to sue on any copyright theories left unanswered questions of whether the band had claim to a superseding trademark in the image that would allow it, and not the Warhol Foundation, to control the image’s reproduction. The dispute is now over, and those questions will not be judicially resolved.
The U.S. District Court in Manhattan has dismissed the copyright claim filed by the Velvet Underground against the Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts over the iconic “banana” image from the cover of the legendary The Velvet Underground and Nico album. Without reaching the merits of the claim, the court ruled that the Velvet Underground had agreed previously not to sue on any copyright theories. Reporting of the decision has been spotty at best, however, ranging from declaring a “win” for the Foundation, to suggestions that the copyright question was decided. In fact, the Court did not reach the copyright issue, and the Velvet Underground still has other trademark-based claims that remain very much alive and unaffected by the decision.