Thomas v. Pansy Ellen Products, Inc.
United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina
672 F. Supp. 237 (1987)
Brenda Thomas (plaintiff) owned a copyright on designs including “My Bear” and “Pastel Playmates” (collectively, the copyrighted designs). Thomas registered her copyright for those designs in April 1986. Thomas sued Pansy Ellen Products, Inc. (Pansy Ellen) (defendant) for copyright infringement in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. The parties agreed that in October 1985, Pansy Ellen displayed products accused of infringing the copyrighted designs at a Juvenile Manufacturers Products Association (JMPA) trade show. The parties cross-moved for partial summary judgment as to whether the timing of Pansy Ellen’s JMPA trade-show activity relative to Thomas’s registration barred Thomas from recovering statutory damages, attorney’s fees, and costs (collectively, the contested remedies) under 17 U.S.C. § 412. Thomas argued that Pansy Ellen’s showing of its products at the trade show did not constitute a public display of the copyrighted designs under 17 U.S.C. § 106(5), because trade-show attendance was restricted to JMPA members and because only qualified buyers were permitted to attend. Based on that argument, Thomas asserted that Pansy Ellen’s JMPA trade-show activity did not constitute commencement of copyright infringement and that she therefore registered the copyrighted designs before infringement began. Thomas thus asserted entitlement to a partial summary judgment that § 412 did not bar her from recovering the contested remedies.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Potter, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 707,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 707,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 44,500 briefs, keyed to 983 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.