A lawsuit between Mike Tyson’s tattoo designer S. Victor Whitmill and Warner Bros.–which for weeks has threatened this Thursday’s release of The Hangover: Part 2–has many Maori people in New Zealand rather peeved. The lawsuit, filed by Whitmill against Warner, alleges that the studio illegally used Whitmill’s Maori-like design in its $80 million marketing campaign for the film–a design Whitmill claims he retains sole ownership of.
That isn’t sitting well with many Maori.
“It is astounding that a Pakeha tattooist who inscribes an African American’s flesh with what he considers to be a Maori design has the gall to claim … that design as his intellectual property,” Maori professor Ngahuia Te Awekotuku told the New Zealand Herald. “The tattooist has an incredible arrogance to assume he has the intellectual right to claim the design form of an indigenous culture that is not his.”
Arrogance or not, THR Esq. reports the judge presiding over the case, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine D. Perry, says Whitmill has “a strong likelihood of ultimately succeeding on the merits of the case.” Perry, however, denied Whitmill’s request to stop the Thursday release of the film.
Tyson, meanwhile, has apparently been getting pestered enough on Twitter over the lawsuit that he felt the need to set the record straight last night.