This copyright lawsuit arises from the alleged infringement of sewing patterns. The Plaintiff, based in Eugene, Oregon, has sold sewing patterns since 1982. The Defendants, based in Georgia, are an online competitor allegedly selling unauthorized copies of the Plaintiff’s patterns.
Note that clothing design is usually held to be functional, and thus does not qualify for copyright protection. However, this lawsuit involves the patterns (drawings) themselves, not the clothing design shown therein.
Copyright in a work that portrays a useful article extends only to the artistic expression of the author of the pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work. It does not extend to the design of the article that is portrayed. – Copyright.gov
I think there can still be an argument made that the sewing patterns do not qualify for protection under 102(b), that they are an illustrated procedure or process for making a dress.
17 U.S. Code § 102 (b)
In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.
Judge for yourself in the Complaint (below) but many of the drawings have little ornamental design elements beyond the utilitarian, and thus unprotectable, functionality required to accurately and adequately show someone how to make the dress.
Stay tuned for updates.
Ranita Corporation v. Beamer et al
Court Case Number: 6:16-cv-01368-MC
File Date: Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Plaintiff: Ranita Corporation d/b/a Sure-Fit Designs
Plaintiff Counsel: Jacob S. Gill of Stoll Stoll Berne Lokting & Shlachter P.C.
Defendant: Oticca Beamer, Fit & Fashion LLC, Beamer & Associates d/b/a Fit & Fashion
Cause: Copyright Infringement, Vicarious Copyright Infringement, Contributory Copyright Infringement
Court: District of Oregon
Judge: Michael J. McShane