Some breaking news here. I’ll let Irish artist extraordinaire, Jim FitzPatrick, get the ball rolling…
“Red Bull plagiarised my artwork about ten years ago and settled out of court--now they want to claim my new artwork infringes THEIR copyright symbol. Their symbol of a flying bull bears zero resemblance to my Táin fighting bulls [see above] so now we have to fight these bullies and their venal legal goons who are busy trying to intimidate Los Angeles-based Irish film maker Myia Elliott who commissioned this for her company symbol.
Our Irish heritage belongs to us not some drink company. Time to fight back.” — Jim Fitzpatrick on Facebook
The Myia Elliott that Mr. FitzPatrick is referring to is a Belfast-born filmmaker and actress who is now facing this preposterous case of Red Bullying. Here’s what she had to say on Facebook (edited slightly for punctuation and brevity):
“Friends, I NEED YOUR HELP! I take my Irish heritage in the arts seriously. I asked Jim Fitzpatrick to capture this heritage in the Celtic Fighting Bulls from the legendary Táin Bó Cúailnge. Well that artistic freedom is being trampled on by Red Bull. A multi-billion company is trying to stop a female Irish artist (who is in a different industry) from using her CELTIC HERITAGE ?! DISGUSTING.
Red Bull have a problem with anyone using bulls it seems... well these are CELTIC FIGHTING BULLS and Irish people have a lot of F-ing Attitude.. and I am asking you here, to show yours. Spread the word. Show your support in any way you can. I have been trying to defend this by myself against a multi billion dollar company in the USPTO and it has had a devastating effect on my life. The initial legal bills were devastating and I have had numerous health complications recently and now I have to move....and this all happened during my finals of a masters in film. A program supported by the Irish government on which I was creating a documentary about the Irish artist, Jim FitzPatrick.
I am reaching out to my artistic community, my Irish community, my American community now.”
As Jim and Myia make fairly clear, this is ridiculous. The legend of the fighting bulls of Ulster and Connacht goes back at least two thousand years. The Red Bull corporation was established in the 1980s. The style of the two logos is completely different. Fitzpatrick’s powerful design is blatantly Insular Celtic in style. The corporate logo is apparently from a Thai design. Neither bull in the FitzPatrick logo is red. Considering that Red Bull had to settle with FitzPatrick over infringement in the past, this is likely a case of payback and lawfare.
As FitzPatrick has pointed out, the council of Yernes y Tameza in Asturias depicts fighting bulls—one red, one white—on its heraldic shield.* Apparently, Red Bull’s corporate legal goons haven’t gotten around to suing them yet. Smart move. As Jim put it, “Asturians don't take prisoners.”
So, what to do? Myia hasn’t asked for money. I’d say one strategy would be contact Red Bull here. Tell them you’re boycotting the company. There is also the option of posting this blog entry link at RB’s official Facebook page or expressing your dismay on Twitter. At minimum, if you’re as gobsmacked as I am by the sheer gall of these people, toss out your cans of Red Bull. These multinational thugs may have messed with the wrong bulls this time around.