Kate Spade Products Accused of Infringing Vera Neumann Design Copyright

Earlier this month, Vera Company sued Liz Claiborne / Fifth & Pacific, alleging that defendants have been selling Kate Spade products, including but not limited to dresses and telephone cases, that infringe Vera's Poppy Field design copyright.

The complaint describes the Poppy Field design (created in 1979) as appearing:

on numerous products through the years, and in numerous publications, including but not limited to appearing on scarves, table cloths, and napkins. In addition, the designs created by Vera Neumann and/or her companies have had enormous circulation, publicity, and respect throughout the world. For example, Vera's designs have been sold in over 20,000 stores around the world; they can be found in vintage shops; they have been the subject of countless exhibitions through the years, including at such places as the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and they are often found on such sites as E-Bay and Etsy.com.

To support its claim of infringement, Vera Company points to Kate Spade's book, Style by Kate Spade, in which she wrote, among other things:

Bright color makes you feel so good. You feel prettier. Much as I like color, I never like if it becomes kitschy. When Vera made scarves, there was nothing cutesy about them. They always made you feel happy.... I think it's important to remember that bright color and pattern can be very sophisticated and make you look strong.

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