National Theme Productinos, Inc. v. Jerry B. Beck, Inc. Cases of Interest >  IP >  Copyright

National Theme Productinos v Jerry B Beck

National Theme Productinos, Inc. v. Jerry B. Beck, Inc.
Facts: Plaintiff National Theme Productions (NTP) is a corporation that designs Halloween and masquerade costumes and sells to the public through leased concessions in department stores across the United States. Defendant Beck is a corporation that sells women’s sportswear. Plaintiff created new costumes titled the “Rabbit In Hat,” “Tigress,” “Magic Dragon,” and “Pampered Pup.” NTP formerly used Beck to produce its costume line and provided Beck with new designs for production. NTP terminated the relationship and then Beck used the patterns and markers to make his own Halloween costume line which he sold under the trade name, “California Costume Collections.”
Procedural: Plaintiffs are seeking an injunction to permanently enjoin Beck from making and selling these costumes.
Issue: 1) whether the costumes contain sculptural or artistic elements that are separable from any utilitarian function, entitling the costumes to copyright protection. 2) whether Defendant’s costumes are substantially similar to Plaintiffs, justifying entry of a permanent injunction against infringement.
Holding: Plaintiffs are entitled to a permanent injunction prohibiting the manufacture, promotion, display, distribution, and sale of “Rabbit in Hat,” “Tigress,” “Magic Dragon,” “Pampered Pup” costumes or costumes which are substantially similar thereto.
Reasoning: The costumes are copyrightable to the extent that they have features which can be identified separately and are capable of existing independently as a work of art and the costumes’ designs and form at issue have little to do with their suitability as wearing apparel. These costumes reflect unfettered artistic license. Also a plaintiff must prove copying in an infringement action and here plaintiffs are not seeking copyright protection on the general ideas for the four costumes but on the arbitrary and fanciful design features. NTP can show the substantial similarity in both the ideas and expression of the works and this depends upon the intrinsic response of the ordinary reasonable person. Here it is obvious that the defendant has captured the total concept and feel of NTP’s protected expression. The costumes produced by the defendant are essentially the same produced by the plaintiff.

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