Tyson's Tattoo Artist Sues Over "Hangover" Ink

By Sara Dover
|  Monday, May 23, 2011  |  Updated 12:57 PM CDT
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The gang is back together for another ill-fated weekend, this time in Thailand.The film opens May 26.

The gang is back together for another ill-fated weekend, this time in Thailand.The film opens May 26.

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Boxer Mike Tyson may have a one-of-a-kind tattoo around his left eye. And according to a lawsuit, his tattoo artist thinks any copycats must pay.

S. Victor Whitmill, the tattoo artist who inked Tyson's signature tat, is suing Warner Brothers Entertainment for using the graphic in "The Hangover Part II," The New York Times reported. Ed Helms' character wakes up after a night of drunken debauchery with a tattoo exactly like Tyson's.

Like a company logo, Whitmill thinks the tribal tattoo is copyrighted work.

"Mr. Whitmill has never been asked for permission for, and have never consented to, the use, reproduction or creation of a derivative work based on his original tattoo," argues the lawsuit, which The New York Times reported was filed April 28.

Tyson has agreed that Whitmill would own the artwork and the copyright of the "Maori-inspired" tattoo. In fact, the lawsuit claims that Tyson's image or likeness has nothing to do with the issue. It's just Whitmill between Warner Brothers.

Warner Brothers' claims the suit is baseless. In a brief filed May 20, Warner Brothers said there was "no legal precedent for Plaintiff's radical claim" to "control the use of a tattoo that he created on the face of another human  being." They added that any delay of the film's release would be an enormous financial burden.

Tyson himself has a cameo in both films. Helms told Entertainment Weekly last week that the boxer had no idea the actor was sporting a copy of his tattoo for the movie, and his reaction was caught on camera.

"His reaction to the tattoo is in the movie because they did not prep him or me before hand," said Helms, who is also known for his role on "The Office." "As his arrival on set was imminent, it became clear that no one had told him about the tattoo bit, and I was actually worried he'd be mad at me and the switch would flib. But he was so cool about it."

The tattoo artist? Not so much.

Selected Reading: The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly

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