Fashion retailers beware — that lovely textile sample catching your eye could contain a copyrighted design. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York recently awarded summary judgment against Defendants Urban Outfitters, Inc. (Urban Outfitters) and GMA Accessories, Inc. dba Capelli New York (Capelli) for infringement of copyrighted textile designs by producing and selling scarves containing two copyrighted star and stripe designs. MPD Accessories B.V. v. Urban Outfitters, Case 1:12-cv-06501-LTS-KNF.

Plaintiff MPD Accessories B.V. (MPD), a Dutch fashion accessory company headquartered in Amsterdam, purchased the stripe design from an English design company and added several combinations of colors and repetition designs. In its Complaint, MPD describes the original and distinctive elements of the stripe design: (i) a palette of color block stripes; (ii) variegated color combinations and bold and small stripes; (iii) interlinking horizontal and vertical stripes; and (iv) parallel and perpendicular striping. MPD’s star and stripe designs can be seen below:

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The Court found that MPD must only show its designs “have some minimal originality and be independently created, i.e., not be copied from someone else’s work” and also noted “[e]ven if motifs themselves are not copyrightable, the designer of a fabric may copyright its selection and arrangement of motifs, or its combining of motifs.” In concluding that MPD’s designs are unique combinations which can be protected as a whole, the Court stated:

“Here, MPD’s Stripe Design includes stripes of different widths and lengths, in different directions, in different colors and with irregular spacing… The Star Design includes different sized stars placed at irregular intervals throughout the design on the one side of the scarf and, on the other side of the scarf, a repetitive floral pattern… there is no genuine dispute that the color, size, arrangement and repetition of the shapes were all aesthetic choices of the Plaintiff.”

The Court granted the summary judgment of infringement in MPD’s favor, and awarded MPD $61,000 in damages from Urban Outfitters, $25,000 from Capelli, a permanent injunction, and an order to forfeit remaining inventory.