Friday, June 10, 2011, 10:40 AM

Rugs Form Basis For Copyright Turf Battle

Unlike with most furniture, the rug designer really only has one arrow in their quiver and that is copyright protection.  The home furnishings industry has seen a number of intellectual property cases recently with a number of utility patent cases concerning mattress technology.  That is not surprising as mattresses have become increasingly more technologically complex.  However, simple copyright protection gets the job done for protecting rug designs.  This is borne out in a series of copyright infringement cases concerning rug designs over the last few years.

In fact, just recently on June 7, 2008 Portland, Maine based Angela Adams Designs filed a copyright infringement action against Target Corporation, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,, Inc., and Mohawk Industries.  In the complaint, Angela Adams alleges that Mohawk manufactured, and that the other defendants are selling, rugs that infringe Angela Adams' copyrighted "Manfred" design (shown below):

The Mohawk/Wal-Mart rug:

The Mohawk/Target rug:

Now, Angela Adams does not have a slam dunk here as substantial similarity is the test for copyright infringement.  However, Angela Adams alleges that it showed its Manfred design to Mohawk several years before Mohawk released the allegedly infringing rugs so Angela Adams can, at the least, likely establish access and then put forth their case on copying.


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