L.A. Printex Industries, Inc. v. Aeropostale, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright
  • Date Filed: 04-09-2012
  • Case #: 10–56187
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Gould for the Court; Circuit Judges Nelson and Ikuta
  • Full Text Opinion

A genuine issue of material fact exists (1) as to whether Defendants had access to a fabric design when 50,000 yards of the fabric were sold in the area and (2) as to substantial similarity where the two designs had similar arrangements of floral elements.

L.A. Printex Industries, Inc. (“L.A. Printex”), a fabric printing company, brought suit against clothing retailer Aeropostale, Inc. and apparel wholesaler Ms. Bubbles, Inc. (collectively “Defendants”) for copyright infringement. L.A. Printex alleged Defendants used a similar floral design for shirts sold in 2006, which Plaintiffs had developed and copyrighted as C30020. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants, ruling that there was no genuine issue of material fact supporting Defendants’ access to C30020 and that Defendants’ marketed design was not similar enough to C30020. Plaintiff appealed. To determine if Defendants had access to C30020, the Ninth Circuit considered whether the design had been “widely disseminated” and found that a genuine issue of material fact as to this question had been raised because 50,000 yards of fabric bearing the design had been sold in the area before the alleged infringement. As to the similarity between Defendants’ design and C30020, the Court noted that the two designs did not have to be exactly the same and that there existed enough similarities between the designs to lead a reasonable jury to find a copyright violation. Lastly, the Court held that an error in L.A. Printex’s original copyright registration of C30020 does not preclude the present infringement action. Summary judgment REVERSED, VACATED and REMANDED for further proceedings.

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