Thursday, August 19, 2010

Litigation – or Innovative Solutions?

Forty-two percent of corporate counsel surveyed late last year by the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski reported that their companies expect to face increased litigation in the next 12months — up substantially from the results of the firm’s previous annual “Litigation Trends Survey,” when only 34% anticipated more lawsuits.

Despite the fact that my firm has a quality litigation communications practice — and that I myself have a Juris Doctor degree from Washington University in St. Louis — I regret that more corporations don’t employ a “stop-take a breath-think” approach before filing a lawsuit. While sometimes there is no choice, innovative thinking may, in some cases, yield an interesting alternative way of dealing with a potential problem. For example, when marketing executive William P. MacFarland of Campbell Soup Company discovered that Andy Warhol had been making use of the copyrighted images of Campbell’s soup cans in his pop-art silkscreens, instead of summoning the lawyers, MacFarland wrote a lovely letter to the artist and sent him some free product.

Following is a transcript of the letter. You can see a copy of the original at the Letters of Note blog.

Campbell SOUP Company

May 19, 1964

Mr. A. Warhol
1342 Lexington Avenue
New York, New York

Dear Mr. Warhol:

I have followed your career for some time. Your work has evoked a great deal of interest here at Campbell Soup Company for obvious reasons.

At one time I had hoped to be able to acquire one of your Campbell Soup label paintings - but I'm afraid you have gotten much too expensive for me.

I did want to tell you, however, that we admired your work and I have since learned that you like Tomato Soup. I am taking the liberty of having a couple of cases of our Tomato Soup delivered to you at this address.

We wish you continued success and good fortune.


(Signed, 'William P. MacFarland')

William P. MacFarland
Product Marketing Manager

Technorati Tags: Fulbright & Jaworski, Andy Warhol, litigation, litigation communications, Campbell Soup Company, communications, public relations, business, Makovsky


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