A California federal jury determined two floral designs manufactured into garments imported by Ms. Bubbles Inc. and sold in Aeropostale stores, infringed copyrighted designs of a snowflake and a rose owned by Plaintiff LA Printex. The Defendants argued the textile designs lack valid registered copyrights, were never marketed and were created during the litigation, however, after two hours of deliberation, the federal jury found Aeropostale infringed the textile designs and there was willful infringement by Ms. Bubbles. The verdict is in favor of the Plaintiff on all counts in the liability phase of the trial.
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LA Printex filed the case in 2009 and it is one of more than 200 federal lawsuits filed by LA Printex in the last five years against many large retailers for alleged violations of its copyrighted textile designs. The vast majority of these lawsuits have settled out of court because companies choose to settle rather than spend enormous amounts on defense costs, which often exceed the profits made on sales. This Aeropostale case joins the ranks of only a handful of cases that have actually gone to trial.
The recent trial court win for LA Printex is a sign infringement cases will continue despite heavy criticism from the fashion industry that companies like LA Printex have made a business out of filing these types of cases. Absent Congressional amendment to the US Copyright Act and US Copyright Office procedures, copyright infringement cases over textile design will not go away, leaving garment companies and retailers holding the bag.