A freelance artist is suing New York University, saying her alma mater’s famous bobcat mascot is really just a copycat.
Ariel Fleurimond says the mascot NYU unveiled in 2008 and began plastering on apparel, memorabilia, posters, its Web site and even the gymnasium floor is a design she created at the request of the associate athletic director.
“I definitely feel like I was taken advantage of,” Fleurimond, 22, told the Daily News.
In a copyright infringement suit filed in Long Island Federal Court, she is seeking unspecified monetary damages from NYU.
Lawyer Mona Conway said her client may be entitled to millions in royalties.
Fleurimond says she was a psychology major working as an equipment room clerk in the athletic department in 2007 when associate director Noah Lefebre asked her to create a feline mascot.
Starting with a generic-looking cat, Fleurimond scratched out numerous drawings, refining the character until she finally came up with a cartoon cougar she called “Orion.”
She submitted the character and waited for approval.
Last summer, she says she got the shock of her life when she walked into the gym and spotted her cougar painted on the hardwood floor.
Fleurimond’s copyrighted cougar and NYU’s bobcat look exactly alike, the suit claims.
“I trusted my school and didn’t think they would treat one of their students like this,” Fleurimond said.
Conway filed the lawsuit after NYU’s legal department took the position that Fleurimond had been compensated for her work in the athletic department.
“She was paid to pick up dirty towels,” Conway said.
NYU spokesman John Beckman call the suit baseless.
“It’s a pity that a court’s time is being taken up with a case so lacking in merit,” he said. “We fully expect to prevail.”