Artwork Created for Los Pollos Hermanos logo

Visual Image Protection: Mexican artist, Humberto Puentes-Segura, sued Sony for copyright infringement in New Mexico federal court, claiming that the license he granted the “Breaking Bad” studio to use his image was for a prop, set design, and wardrobe purposes only. The image, used as the logo for the fictional fast food restaurant, Los Pollos Hermanos, has since been used by Sony on t-shirts, mugs, and other merchandise.

If the allegation is true that rights were only granted for the limited uses, then it’s a fairly straightforward copyright case. Consistent with limits, the license fee was only $700. Sony could argue that the license can be read to grant broader rights, but that usually doesn’t work out well for the claimed infringer. In California, for example, Section 988 of the Civil Code says that where a work of visual art is licensed, such as the illustration here, any ambiguity in the license must be interpreted in favor of the artist.