You’ve probably seen Apple’s “You’re more powerful thank you think” iPhone 5s commercial, which depicts iPhone owners using their device to do everything from control a guitar to fire a set of rockets. What you might not know, however, is that the ad’s signature tagline has allegedly been used by well-known New York City street artist James De La Vega for almost 10 years. Now he’s taking action.
According to the Daily News, De La Vega has filed a cease-and-desist letter to Apple, claiming that the company intentionally stole the tagline that’s widely associated with his work. De La Vega’s lawyer claims that the commercial violates the artist’s rights as the “common law owner of the trademark,” and that it falsely gives the message that De La Vega supports Apple.
De La Vega told the Daily News that his quotes are “intended to inspire, uplift and empower human beings,” and that Apple used his phrase to “motivate their base to buy their phones.” We reached out to Apple for comment, but had not received a response as of publish time.
The 46-year-old artist, known best for his murals and sidewalk chalk creations, typically includes a motivational quote within each of his drawings. According to his lawyer, he’s hoping to reach a settlement to avoid a lawsuit with the smartphone titan.
While “You’re more powerful than you think” is a fitting tagline for the more off-the-wall iPhone capabilities that Apple is advertising, it could end up costing the company. Only time will tell if Apple will quietly compensate De La Vega, or if things will escalate further.
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