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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
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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