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Laureyssens v. Idea Group, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
964 F.2d 131 (2d Cir. 1992)


Dirk Laureyssens (plaintiff) developed a foam puzzle called HAPPY CUBE. HAPPY CUBEs consisted of interlocking pieces with five notch-widths on each side that could be assembled from flat into a cube. They came in six colors, assembled flat in clear shrink-wrap with a cardboard insert. Laureyssens spent little on marketing and received minimal unsolicited media coverage, resulting in weak sales. HAPPY CUBE had been selling for about two years when Laureyssens discovered Idea Group, Inc. (defendant) sold identical puzzles. After negotiations over the rights broke down, Idea Group developed a flat-to-cube puzzle called SNAFOOZ with pieces that had six notch-widths per side instead of five. SNAFOOZ came in the same six colors as HAPPY CUBE, assembled flat in clear shrink-wrap with a cardboard insert, but the insert had a different design and did not copy the HAPPY CUBE insert. Laureyssens sued to enjoin Idea Group from infringing his copyrights and trade dress. The court denied an injunction based on copyright because of the six-notch design but found Idea Group’s trade dress infringing and enjoined it from using shrink-wrapped packaging unless the puzzle inside was assembled into a cube. The court reasoned that Laureyssens showed the flat shrink-wrapped HAPPY CUBE trade dress was protectable under the doctrine of “secondary meaning in the making. Both sides appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Oakes, J.)

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