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Cheney Bros. v. Doris Silk Corp. - 35 F.2d 279 (2d Cir. 1929)


In the absence of some recognized right at common law, or under the statutes, a man's property is limited to the chattels which embody his invention. Others may imitate these at their pleasure.


Plaintiff was a corporation designing new fabric patterns each season. Plaintiff’s products were not copyrighted under the Copyright Act. Defendant Corporation copied one of plaintiff’s popular designs. Subsequently, plaintiff sued defendant for relief under the copyright laws. The district court ruled in favor of the defendant. Plaintiff appealed.


Should defendant be held liable for copying plaintiff’s design?




The court affirmed the district court's decision. Because plaintiff had no recognized right at common law or under the copyright statutes, plaintiff's property was limited to the chattels embodied in his invention, with no protection from the imitation of such property. With no legal right of protection, plaintiff's action against defendant failed.

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