No one likes to make a mistake and certainly not one that costs you or your workplace money. For one member of the U.S. Postal Service, their mistake ended up costing $3.5 million — and that’s not chump change. It started back in 2010 with the release of the Statue of Liberty Forever stamp. When choosing just the right image of Lady Liberty from a stock image site, the employee ended up not choosing her at all. Instead, the person chose a photo of the sculpture that adorns the outside of New York-New York Hotel and Casino, right there on the Las Vegas Strip, reports USA TODAY.
Not only did the mistake make it to printing, it was in circulation for three months before the USPS was notified by the stock photo agency that they had made a mistake. During that time, three billion stamps were printed. The service defended their decision.
“We really like the image and are thrilled that people have noticed in a sense,” a USPS spokesman told CNN in 2011. “It’s something that people really like. If you ask people in Vegas, they’re saying, ‘Hey, That’s great. That’s wonderful.’ It’s certainly injected some excitement into our stamp program.”
Interestingly enough, the man who created the sculpture for the casino didn’t feel the same way.
In fact, Davidson “discovered the stamp when his wife bought a book of them at the post office. In January 2012, she filed a copyright application on his behalf.,” reports NPR. It was issued on November 2013. Robert Davidson then sued the government for copyright infringement.
His attorneys made the argument that he made his with subtle changes on purpose from original French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholi, saying that his “version of Lady Liberty is unmistakably different from the original, because it is more ‘fresh-faced,’ ‘sultry’ and even ‘sexier.’ Postal Service attorneys said the versions were too similar to notice any differences,” reports USA TODAY.
Of course, the Postal Service made a hefty little profit from the sale of “his” likeness on the stamp — an impressive $70 million in fact. The stamp was retired in 2014. Friday, a judge handed down his decision in the case. Federal Judge Eric Bruggink ruled in favor of Davidson, saying it was an original design, and ordered the USPS to pay $3.5 million to Davidson.
The U.S. Postal Service representatives released a statement where they said, “We are reviewing the decision and will comment if and when appropriate.”