Is Forever 21 Skirting the Law?

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

As you may have noticed, posting on YTWWN has not been hot-and-heavy as of late. This can be attributed to a recent uptick in infringement that has kept us lawyering late into the night, and left scant time for posting. This week we will be fixing that, with a number of new posts highlighting different design and art law matters.

This one comes from our law firm’s recent files. One firm client, a company named FATE, was visiting a FOREVER 21 store recently when it discovered, to its chagrin, that FOREVER 21 was marketing a skirt that appeared to be a near-verbatim copy of a FATE design. See below for a comparison; the FATE garment is on the left and the FOREVER 21 garment is on the right:

Long-time readers of YTWWN know that the cut (or silhouette) of a garment is not subject to copyright protection. Judged to be “utilitarian articles” by the powers that be in Congress, clothing silhouettes can be copied without legal recourse. Designs or embellishments that adorn clothing, though, are protected by copyright law. Has such a design been copied here?

- AttorneyScott – [email protected]

Samsung Dials up Some Infringement?

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

Has Samsung gone too far in its use of the below artwork?

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Dear YTWWN:

With Samsung’s launch of their new Galaxy S 5 and Gear fit, they are using a design copied by Chicago illustrator Joe Van Wetering. Joe has used this style since 2009 in various forms. It is a major part of Samsung’s marketing and they have given no response about the designs.

 

As Humans Do?

ATTORNEYSCOTT COMMENTARY:

The world of graphic t-shirt design is one rife with instances of misappropriation. It is very easy to whip up a batch of Ts, and with that ease of manufacture often comes a less-than-discerning look at the rights behind the artwork and graphics on the Ts. The easy availability of artwork online (which can be had with a simple right click/save as) only exacerbates the problem.

Here, we have a situation where one company is alleged to have misappropriate the look of another’s t-shirt design. This dispute is especially interesting because it involves both graphic and textual content. As a rule, single words and short phrases are not covered by copyright law (they may, however, be covered by trademark law). If a phrase reaches a certain length, though, it may be covered by copyright law as a literary work. Poems, haiku, and certain other literary works that are not necessarily lengthy are nonetheless artistic and should be protectable by law.

And, the original combination of otherwise unprotectable elements is subject to protection.

So, what, here, is protectable? And, has someone done something wrong?

-ATTORNEY SCOTT ([email protected])

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Origin 68:

http://www.origin68.com/product/human-being-black#.UupuCmRDu2A

Damascus:

http://youredm.damascusapparel.com/human-being-shirt.html

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