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Graphic Artist Files $1M Lawsuit Against Tapout Claiming Fraud and Design Theft

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Spillane Weingarten and Girardi Keese represent creator of graphic designs for best-selling TapouT merchandise

Los Angeles, CA -- Justin Weber, the graphic designer who created powerful graphic designs that has TapouT-brand merchandise flying off the shelves, is suing the mixed martial company, Tapout, Inc. for $1M in damages for breach of contract and fraud. The lawsuit asserts that after agreeing to buy TapouT-branded merchandise from Weber in return for his creating sales-generating graphics, the company fraudulently obtained the original graphics created by Weber to manufacture clothing bearing unauthorized knock-offs of Weber’s graphics. This fraud and breach of contract deprived Weber out of millions of dollars of sales. Jay Spillane, a partner with the business litigation firm Spillane Weingarten, is representing Weber in his lawsuit, together with Jim O’Callahan of Girardi Keese.

"Tapout claims to be ‘an expression of combat known worldwide,’" said Mr. Spillane, referring to the company’s tagline on its web page ( "Apparently, one of Tapout’s ‘expressions of combat’ is to steal other people’s proprietary work to avoid payment. The company unconscionably took advantage of Mr. Weber and his unique artwork which helped put Tapout on the map."

In 2005, Tapout was not well known. That year, it struck a graphics design and manufacturing deal with Weber, president of Made in America (MIA), an apparel design firm located in San Clemente, California. In return for Weber creating brand-building TapouT graphic designs, Tapout agreed to buy its merchandise from Weber’s company, MIA. The mixed martial arts company did not own Weber’s designs; it compensated Weber by purchasing the branded merchandise from MIA for resale. Weber created more than 50 designs which were approved by Tapout for production.

After seeing just how fast and well Weber’s design merchandise was selling, Tapout’s management crafted a scheme to obtain Weber’s original artwork so that it could freeze him out by having a different company manufacture the Weber-designed goods. After fraudulently obtaining Weber’s original artwork, Tapout manufactured and sold thousands of pieces of merchandise bearing Weber’s designs without his permission, and without payment for the use of his artwork.

The lawsuit is pending in the Superior Court of California in San Bernardino County.

Spillane Weingarten, LLP is a law firm devoted exclusively to business litigation. It represents individuals and business owners in a variety of cases including entertainment, media, and intellectual property.

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