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Artist sues McQuade Distributing over use of fish picture

Artist sues McQuade Distributing over use of fish picture


A Montana artist is suing a Bismarck beer distributor for copyright infringement, saying McQuade Distributing illegally used his illustration of a fish on promotional materials.

The complaint filed in federal court last week by Jon Q. Wright alleges that McQuade Distributing “unlawfully reproduced and displayed” his illustration of a striped bass jumping out of the water in materials promoting the January 2018 Marina Bay Ice Fishing Tournament.

Wright maintains that caused him losses in royalties and licensing revenues and diminished the value of the illustration. He has filed several such lawsuits in recent years against various companies in states from Minnesota to Alabama.

Wright’s company, JQ Licensing, in 2007 granted Anheuser-Busch Companies a limited license of the striping bass illustration for a two-year period, the complaint states. McQuade “did not vet the illustration, did not determine the source of the illustration, and did not confirm that it was legally available for commercial use” prior to using it, the lawsuit alleges.

The nine-page document filed on Wright’s behalf by Fargo attorney Joel Fremstad claims Wright’s creation of wildlife illustrations is “an extraordinarily time-consuming practice” involving multiple steps. Wright must first catch a trophy-sized specimen of the fish and accordingly “had to become a skilled trophy fisherman,” according to the complaint.

The specimen fish is then frozen and partially thawed, impaled on a stake in the desired position and photographed to capture a 360-degree perspective. Each painting can take “hundreds of hours” and include touching each painted scale of the fish with a brush three to five times, the document states.

Wright seeks an unspecified amount of money for alleged financial losses, attorney fees and prejudgment interest, along with any profit earned by McQuade through the use of the image. He also wants an order stopping the company from further use.

Fremstad declined comment to the Tribune.

The attorney representing McQuade Distributing, Corey Quinton of Fargo, also declined comment.

McQuade Distributing has been in business since 1947. The company is perhaps best known for sponsoring the Sam McQuade Sr./Budweiser Charity Softball Tournament, which draws thousands of players and fans to Bismarck each year.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or


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