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Tattoo artist slaps lawsuit on ink event

A well-known Vancouver tattoo artist has filed a $100,000 lawsuit against organizers of the WestCoast Tattoo and Culture Show in B.C. Supreme Court.

A well-known Vancouver tattoo artist has filed a $100,000 lawsuit against organizers of the WestCoast Tattoo and Culture Show in B.C. Supreme Court.

Thomas Lockhart believes the show organizers are profiting from the reputation he's built with his West Coast Tattoo business that's been operating since 1985.

Lockhart had organizers Tim Lajambe and Clint Danroth served with legal papers at the show at the Boulevard Casino in Coquitlam last weekend. "They were right there and it gets everybody gossiping and it ruins their day, too," he said.

Lockhart said he contacted show organizers when he learned in December 2008 about the inaugural WestCoast Tattoo Show for 2009. He swiftly spent money on lawyers to incorporate and trademark the name West Coast Tattoo. "They weren't the only ones I threatened," Lockhart said. "There were people in Nova Scotia, stuff like that, using my name. They were decent about it, they said, 'Yes we understand. We will cease and desist,' but these f***ers didn't."

Now Lockhart is claiming a share of the income he believes they've earned on the back of his good business name. "If 15,000 people go [to the show] over the course of a weekend, that's $20 a pop. They're selling 70 booths, I don't know, $600, $700 a booth, they're making some pretty serious coin, probably a quarter of a million a pop, grossing it, anyway. Over four years, they've probably made a million dollars. So I'm suing for about 10 per cent of the gross," he said.

Lajambe and Danroth declined Courier interview requests, but Lajambe is quoted in the May 1 edition of 24 Hours that WestCoast referred to the show's geographical location. Lajambe was also quoted as saying Lockhart's business is named West Coast, two words, not WestCoast, one word.

Lockhart doesn't buy this argument. He recalled a man coming into his tattoo parlour about a year ago with a poorly executed tattoo asking Lockhart to fix it, saying he'd had it done at "west coast."

"I said, 'That's not my work.' He said, 'Well I mean WestCoast, the show,'" Lockhart said. "Well, Christ, that was the final straw- When you say, 'west coast tattoo,' what did I just use right now, West Coast Tattoo? Was that a capital C or a lower-case c? You can't tell on the radio when you're advertising."

Lajambe also told 24 Hours the tattoo show doesn't need to connect with Lockhart's business name. Corey Miller of L.A. Ink appeared at the first WestCoast Tattoo Show and this year's convention featured Chris Nunez from Spike TV's Ink Masters and TLC's Miami Ink, and Billy DeCola from TLC's New York Ink.

Lockhart has worked as a tattoo artist since the 1970s. He's plied his trade in Australia and Europe and produced a documentary called The Vanishing Tattoo for National Geographic. He's inked Hollywood actors that include Jodie Foster, football players and hockey stars.

"Your name gets around after a while," he said.

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Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi