Legal battle over copyright of Kate Middleton tattoo


By Neil Pooran

The elaborate tattoo design is the subject of a copyright battle

A TATTOO on Kate Middleton’s upper thigh is at the centre of a bizarre legal battle over copyright.

The elaborate floral design was created for the leg of Ms Middleton – a Scots jewellery shop worker rather than the Duchess of Cambridge – by artist Karolina Randakova.

But Mrs Randakova was dismissed by the Edinburgh studio half way through the lengthy process of tattooing the customer’s limb.

Dragonheart Tattoo studio finished off the job and are now being sued by Mrs Randakova for breach of copyright.

Sheriff John Horsburgh was asked to examine pictures of the tattoo as the case started at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

He will have to decide if Mrs Randakova is entitled to the £832 she is claiming from Dragonheart Tattoo for alleged copyright infringement.

Mrs Randakova says that as well as the floral design for 20-year-old Ms Middleton, the studio used another two of her creations without permission.

Sandy Moffat, lawyer for Mrs Randakova, said she worked as a tattoo artist at the company’s premises in the Portobello area of the city.

He also claims she is entitled to money for time spent creating designs for the tattoos.

Mr Moffat said: “The pursuer has a reasonable expectation of remuneration for the design work itself [and for the] completion of tattoos using her designs. She was deprived of that by being dismissed.”

He added: “For an artist, it is appropriate there should be remuneration for creation of designs.

“They [Dragonheart] shouldn’t use graphic works in application of tattoos without consent of the author.”

He said no valid defences for a breach of copyright had been put forward so far in the case.

Mrs Randakova started the flower tattoo on Ms Middleton, also from Portobello, after she turned 18.

But Mrs Randakova was dismissed from her job in September 2009 before the job was finished.

Presenting the case for the defence, Mr Robert Frazer (corr) said Dragonheart “had not copied or reproduced any designs”.

Kate Middleton had the tattoo done at Dragonheart studio in Edinburgh

He said: “All the defenders did was to complete the tattoos by colouring them in.

“The person who pays is entitled to copyright. When a customer pays for something the copyright belongs to whoever paid. “

Mr Frazer said Mrs Randakova left the studio after general dissatisfaction with her work and her behaviour.

Another artist at Dragonheart Tattoo, Alan Proctor, 33, said artists in the studio did not expect to be paid for time spent designing, rather than producing tattoos.

Ms Middleton told the court: “Mrs Randakova put in sections of the tattoo I didn’t ask for.”

She added: “I didn’t like the shapes she was making, though at first I thought it was just shading.”

The tattoo was finished – to her satisfaction – by Jan Craig, who runs the Dragonheart studio with her husband Russ.

Mrs Randakova is also claiming money for a first aid course she attended as part of her work with the studio.

The case was adjourned pending Sheriff Horsburgh’s decision.

The Portobello Kate Middleton made the news earlier this year when her Facebook account was suspended after the social networking site confused her with Prince William’s future wife.

Her account was restored in February after she contacted Facebook.

At the time she said: “Do they think I saw Prince William getting engaged and ran out to create an impostor page pretending I was his Kate Middleton?

“Anyone could see my photo on my profile is completely different and I’m a 19 year old student in Edinburgh, not a future Royal!”