Knitwaves, Inc. v. Lollytogs, Ltd.

71 F.3d 996 (1995)

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Knitwaves, Inc. v. Lollytogs, Ltd.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
71 F.3d 996 (1995)

Facts

Knitwaves, Inc. (plaintiff), a manufacturer of children’s knitwear, registered copyrights for two sweater designs, Leaf and Squirrel. The Leaf sweater had shadow stripes with leaf felt appliques. The Squirrel sweater had a four-paneled front with squirrel and leaf felt appliques. Both sweaters used an autumn color palette. Subsequently, Lollytogs, Ltd. (defendant) released competing leaf and squirrel sweaters, admittedly copied from Knitwaves’ designs. Lollytogs’ sweaters featured leaf and squirrel felt appliques that looked like Knitwaves’, shadow-striped (leaf sweater) or four-panel (squirrel sweater) backgrounds, and an autumn color palette. Knitwaves filed a complaint in federal district court for copyright infringement. The district court used the ordinary-observer test for substantial similarity and found copyright infringement. Lollytogs appealed, arguing that the district court should have used a more discerning ordinary-observer test for substantial similarity and excluded the unprotectable design elements, instead of comparing the overall sweater designs. Lollytogs provided a detailed list of the differences in its sweaters from Knitwaves’ sweaters.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Oakes, J.)

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