State Street Global, which commissioned original bronze in Manhattan, says Melbourne version violates its trademark
The Fearless Girl statue has been a lot of things to a lot of people. The 4ft bronze of a defiant youngster, hands on hips facing down the status quo, has been dismissed as a cynical marketing stunt and celebrated as a selfie-friendly symbol of a new feminism. Now she is at the center of a court battle aimed at stopping her marching across the world.
The original Fearless Girl appeared overnight in March 2017, the day before International Womens Day, in downtown New York. Facing off against the Charging Bull statue close to Wall Street, the sculpture was commissioned by State Street Global, an asset management company, to promote a fund investing in gender-diverse companies.
It became an instant hit. Crowds gathered to take selfies. The Massachusetts Ssenator Elizabeth Warren, a longtime critic of Wall Street and a frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, was one of the celebrities to use the statue to promote her policies.
Sculptor Kristen Visbal has since made several copies of Fearless Girls that now stand resolutely in cities including London and Oslo. But on Monday, State Street made its latest attempt to stop the Fearless Girl from spreading further, moving to have a statue removed from Federation Square in Melbourne.
In a lawsuit against Maurice Blackburn, the Australian personal injury firm that commissioned the Melbourne piece, State Street argues the replicas violate its trademark and dilute the companys message. According to the New York Times, David Studdy, a lawyer for the company, said Maurice Blackburn had used the campaign to promote itself or themselves by tying the name of Fearless Girl to themselves.
State Street has also sued Visbal, the sculptor, for making other copies, again claiming trademark violations. Visbals lawyers say States Streets moves are designed to rob her of making a living from her art.
The statue has proved a mixed blessing for State Street. While it has certainly raised the companys profile it has also highlighted its own record on gender equality.
In October 2017, State Street paid $5m to settle charges that it underpaid about 300 women in its employ. In the same month the Guardian reported that State Street had consistently voted down gender equality proposals at some of the worlds largest corporations including Google owner Alphabet, American Express and Bank of America.