Access and copying may be inferred when two works are so similar to each other and not to anything in the public domain that it is likely that the creator of the second work copied the first, but the inference can be rebutted by disproving access or otherwise showing independent creation. As a remedy an injunction is available upon proper proof.
Ty, Inc.was the manufacturer of the popular "Beanie Babies" line of stuffed animals. Its line of stuffed animals included a copyrighted pig called “Squealer” and a copyrighted cow called “Daisy”. GMA Accessories, Inc., manufactured a competing line of bean-bag stuffed animals which also included a pig called “Preston the Pig” and a cow called “Louie the Cow.” Ty, Inc. brought an action against GMA under the Copyright Act to obtained a preliminary injunction against GMA’s sale of the said stuffed animals. GMA then contested the injunction that enjoined the sale of “Preston the Pig”.
Was the grant of preliminary injunction proper?
The Court affirmed the injunction against GMA Accessories, Inc., holding that GM’s bean-bag pig was strikingly similar to Ty, Inc.’s, but not to any real or fictional pig in the public domain. The Court ruled that access and copying were inferred when two works were so similar to each other and not to anything in the public domain that it was likely that the creator of the second work copied the first. The Court further held that the granting of the preliminary injunction depended on proof of irreparable harm if the injunction was withheld as well as on the likelihood of success on the merits when the case was fully tried. The Court ruled that the Ty, Inc. would have suffered irreparable harm if GMA Accessories, Inc. was permitted to continue making the pig.