S. Victor Whitmill, the award-winning tattoo artist who gave Mike Tyson his well-known facial ink, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Missouri on Thursday seeking an injunction against Warner Bros. that would stop the studio from releasing 'The Hangover Part 2.'
"When Mr. Whitmill created the Original Tattoo, Mr. Tyson agreed that Mr. Whitmill would own the artwork and thus, the copyright in the Original Tattoo," the court papers read (via The Hollywood Reporter). "Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. – without attempting to contact Mr. Whitmill, obtain his permission, or credit his creation – has copied Mr. Whitmill's Original Tattoo and placed it on the face of another actor ... This unauthorized exploitation of the Original Tattoo constitutes copyright infringement."
In 'The Hangover Part 2,' the character played by Ed Helms wakes up after a long night of partying with a facial tattoo similar to Tyson's. THR notes that it will be difficult for Warner Bros. to argue that the tats are "coincidentally similar" because Tyson was featured in the first 'Hangover' film and the ink sported by Helms in the second movie seems to be a "direct comedic reference to Tyson."
Warners, which was forced to make a large payout to the author of the source material for its 'Dukes of Hazzard' film when he filed an injunction to stop its release, will have to prove that the copyright isn't valid (or settle with Whitmill, who calls the ink "one of the most distinctive tattoos in the nation"). In order to do so, the studio can argue that they changed the design enough that it doesn't constitute infringement or that it's a parody.
'The Hangover Part II' hits theaters May 26.
Check out trailer below. Is the tattoo different enough, or is it an obvious parody? Let us know if you think in the comments.