Nowadays, an art thief can pop up anywhere, at any time, even half-way across the world, where Hobbits are known to roam (or so movies have led me to believe). An artist writes in to express her dismay that a New Zealand company has swooped in on her art, copied it, and slapped it on a collection of bras to be sold all across the sweeping lands of NZ.
The U.S. Copyright Act, though, applies only to domestic infringement. This means that we can only pursue claims against infringers who committed acts of infringement in the U.S. (or, potentially, directed out-of-country infringement from within the U.S.). So, a New Zealand design thief would have to be pursued under New Zealand law in New Zealand. I hear it’s beautiful this time of year (or, most any time of year, really).
-AttorneyScott ([email protected])
UPDATE: The artist and The Warehouse have amicably resolved this matter.
Thanks so much for the opportunity to share this with you.
A fan of my work who lives in New Zealand recently sent me a photo of a bra she had seen in a store called The Warehouse (http://www.thewarehouse.co.nz). She recognized the print as mine, and emailed me just in case I hadn’t given the manufacturer, The Underwear Club (http://www.theunderwearclub.co.nz), the rights to use it. I had not; in fact, I had never heard of either company until reading her email.
There were some slight alterations made to the pattern: directions of the arrows alternate by row; any overlapping on the sides of the arrows has been removed, most likely because it could not be repeated successfully with those overlaps in place; only a small portion of the original design repeats, probably because they could not steal a complete image; and the size of the arrows is much smaller, which could be a direct result of having stolen a low-resolution image or screen shot, and then reducing it down to increase the resolution. But it is clearly my pattern and my colors.
Below is my original design:
Here is the Warehouse bra:
And here is a comparison of the designs:
I have attempted to contact the company to get to the bottom of this, but my attempts to contact them have not produced any response, so I am led to believe they knew what they were doing during the design process. This is clearly an “international incident” of infringement.