Whitaker v. Stanwood Imps.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright
  • Date Filed: 01-17-2013
  • Case #: 2:10-CV-539 TS
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Stewart
  • Full Text Opinion

Without further circumstantial evidence, wide dissemination and third party copying is insufficient to show access for copyright infringement.

Opinion (Stewart): Lyman Whitaker (“Whitaker”) created and owns the copyright to a statue entitled “the Double Spinner.” Whitaker sued Stanwood Imports and Oriental Touch, LLC (collectively “Stanwood”), claiming that Stanwood’s wind sculpture, also entitled “the Double Spinner,” infringed on Whitaker’s design. Stanwood’s sculpture was created by copying a third party sculpture (“the OSH model”). Whitaker’s arguments that his design was widely disseminated were unsuccessful, since he could not produce circumstantial evidence that either of the other two designers were likely to have specifically encountered Whitaker’s design. Further, access was not proved even though Whitaker and Stanwood’s designs bore the same name, because of the name’s descriptive nature. Finally, even though copying can be transitive, Whitaker could not prove that the creator of the OSH model had access to his design. Therefore, Whitaker failed to meet his burden to prove access. Even though copyright protection extends to the particularized representation of an idea, Whitaker failed to prove substantial similarity required, because of the differences in design and material. Accordingly, the court GRANTED summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

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