The Federal Circuit has revived a copyright suit (read here) over fabric designs for a second time, scolding the district court for failing to provide a speedy adjudication of the issues.
New York’s Malibu Textiles alleged the infringement of its copyrighted lace designs, lace designs involving flowers, vines, leaves and other elements arranged in a distinct pattern, in an action against H&M Hennes & Mauritz, LP and Label Lane International, Inc.
The case is most noteworthy for the blistering rebuke of the lower court:
It is the responsibility of “the court and the parties to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.” Federal Civil Rule 1. This aspirational goal was not achieved in these cases. This latest round of appeals added nearly two years to cases that were already three years old. And these cases have not advanced beyond the initial pleading stage. Direction from the earlier appeals was disregarded, as were the parties’ stipulations to allow amendments to the Complaints.
Now as to the copyright infringement, you be the judge? Substantial similarity or not?
THE BUSINESS TAKE AWAY: One of the gravest mistakes companies can make is thinking that copyright protection is only for art, music and literature; or other “creative” endeavors. Not so! Sure, the media giants use copyright law every day. But, copyright cases are won every day on fabric patterns like this, technical installation manuals, and policy and procedure handbooks. The field is almost limitless, and the availability of statutory damages (more on this in another article) can make it very rewarding to be a copyright plaintiff.