November 13th, 2013 By Jac Kern | Arts | Posted In: Visual Art, Arts community

UPDATE: Cork 'N Bottle Removes London Police Mural

Decision made one day after BLDG's Mike Amann passed away

1002638_10151948882978965_599207823_nMural by The London Police - Courtesy BLDG

UPDATE: Cork ‘N Bottle has reached out to BLDG and the public to apologize for the removal of The London Police mural made possible by BLDG and Mike Amann, who passed away Sunday.

Cork ‘N Bottle’s Tim Hue met with BLDG owners to apologize for the unfortunate timing of the mural removal. The company says it will donate $1,000 to the American Cancer Society in Mike Amann’s name and work to bring The London Police back to Covington to create a new mural. Both the gallery and Cork ‘N Bottle shared the news on social media.

From BLDG’s Facebook page:

“Excellent update on the Cork-N-Bottle and The London Police - Official mural situation:
We just had an excellent meeting with Tim Hue from Cork N Bottle issuing a formal apology along with a gracious $1,000 donation to the American Cancer Society on behalf of Mike Amann.
We fully accept this apology along with Tim's eagerness to correct the situation. We will be working with Tim and Cork N Bottle on replacing the mural in a timely fashion.
Also, we would like to state that the unfortunate timing of the event was in no way intended to be malicious or insensitive in any way.
Thank you Cork N Bottle for doing the right thing for the City of Covington and our community.”

Cork ‘N Bottle also reached out to fans on their page:

“We understand and sincerely regret the hurt that the removal of the art mural has caused our community. We acted out of a concern of a Maker’s Mark copyright violation – which we feared might affect our relationship with a key supplier. We certainly had no intention of offending The London Police - Official, BLDG or the community who had come to appreciate and enjoy the mural. We have been a part of this community for 50 years and as always, wish to work in the best interest for our community's development and growth. We regret the loss of this piece of art, and thank you for your comments and your enthusiasm for Covington. We too share your passion for our neighborhood and love being a part of this community. In furtherance of our sincere apologies, Cork 'N Bottle has made a donation in the name and memory of Michael T. Amann to The American Cancer Society. We invite others to join us.”

ORIGINAL POST: 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12

The London Police mural on the side of Covington’s Cork ‘N Bottle has been removed by the liquor store.

British street artists TLP came to Greater Cincinnati this August as part of a collaboration with Covington’s BLDG. The London Police created one large mural and several smaller graffiti works across Covington during their two-week stay. Cork ‘N Bottle owners, according to BLDG, agreed to keep one of the works on the side of their building for at least one year. The mural was removed Monday.

From BLDG’s Facebook Page:

Huge loss in Covington today. Cork 'N Bottle decided to paint over their The London Police - Official mural today. Let us state that the agreement of the mural being painted on the building was that the painting would be up for at least a year after completion. From this point forward, we will surely only shop at The Party Source for all our spirits!”

This decision comes just a day after BLDG owner Mike Amann passed away Sunday after a battle with stage four neuroendocrine cancer.

Friends of Amann and fans of the artwork reached out to Cork ‘N Bottle on Facebook for an explanation. The liquor store posted the following statement this morning.

The London Police mural was removed from our building at 501 Crescent Ave. yesterday. The reasons for this are that the contract to have it painted was unauthorized and the image was an infringement on the Maker’s Mark trademarked bottle image. Please look for new art coming this spring as a new mural is being properly contracted.”

This blog will be updated when more information becomes available.

11.12.2013 at 12:35 Reply

If anyone bothers, this claim is easily assailable in court. By retaining the work of art, the store impliedly consented to the contract, even if its agent did not have teh actual authority to enter into it initially. Second, teh artist, having made teh work with at the very least an implied contract, retains moral rights in the work (see Copyright law). Finally, a work of art has teh highest First Amendment protection, and there is no trademark infringemnent unless there is a confusion in teh commercial marketplace. Note: I am not an Ohio lawyer, so contract law may woprk differently than I am used to - but I call BS on the whole thing.


11.12.2013 at 01:27

You know, this could be a huge PR coup for one of Cork N' Bottle's competitors. Commission a London Police mural on your own wall and publicize that.


11.12.2013 at 11:28

That's not true Amiel.  The store manager or employee who entered into the contract is personally liable but not Cork 'N Bottle the company precisely because the manager or employee did not have the authority to act on behalf of the company in this capacity.  Nobody else can decide for you that graffitti artists are going to paint your home or other property then there is nothing you can do about it, that you aren't allowed to remove it.  It would be rediculous to think otherwise.


Retaining the work of art means nothing, the property owner always has the right to remove anything that was not a signed contract by that property owner.


Works of art do not have First Amendment protection to the extent anyone is entitled to force that art on any property but their own.  You are terribly confused about the applicable laws.

Of course there could be confusion considering the image was explicitly meant to represent the real thing, that's as infringing as it gets, to deliberately represent something.  Just as a graffitti artist can't force their work on your property, they also can't use a trademark without the consent of THAT property owner.

Do what you want with your own property but don't think for a second you can thrust your will upon others' property.


Whoever signed the contract is liable and nobody else.


11.13.2013 at 10:37

First off, apologies for being unable to type the word 'the.'

I am unfamiliar with Kentucky law. However, if  the manager held out the appearance of authority, either as possessor of the property or agent, and then the actual principal accepted the "commissioned" work, there is absolutely an argument that this was an apparent contract. I'm sure a judge would look at the delay between when it was painted and the timing of when it was painted over and make a call on that significance.

The First Amendment right would defeat the TM claim, not the property rights you are talking about. You are crossing my arguments. There would of course have to be some kind of contract to even reach the merits of the TM claim. And you can take m y word for it - the artwork enjoys strict scrutiny protection. Thej question I suppose is whether the liquor storew is using the art in commerce to create consumer confusion. I seriously doubt that because I'm sure they ACTUALLY SELL MAKER'S MARK. So you may be right about the propoerty right, but you need to read up on TM law.


11.13.2013 at 10:50 Reply

Come to think, the first amendment right is irrelevant. However my cursory TM point of view is accurate. The TM has to be used in commerce and there typically has to be a showing of consumer confusion. I don't see how that applies.

I erroneously went into first amendment territory, when actually the copyright issue is the competing claim. But again, there would have to be some kind of valid contract.

I'm not saying anyone should run to court over this, but painting over the thing after the apparent curator died, calling it "unauthorized" but waiting three months, and a flimsy TM claim make it look weak.