Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 3:46 PM

Textile Company Slams Furniture Manufacturer and Retailers with Copyright Infringement Suit

On February 7, 2013, textile company Swavelle/Mill Creek Fabrics (New York, NY), along with related entities Textile Fabric Associates, LLC and Swavelle Trading (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., sued furniture manufacturer Jackson Furniture Industries, Inc. (Cleveland, TN), three named retailers (Bob's Discount Furniture, Inc.; Corner Furniture Discount Center, Inc.; and Elizabeth Furniture & Mattress Corp.), and "John Doe Retail Stores Nos. 1-50" for copyright infringement, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and unfair competition under New York common law. Case No. 1:13-cv-911-VM.

In its complaint, Swavelle alleges that Jackson Furniture had regularly purchased textiles from Swavelle in the past to manufacturer its furniture. Notwithstanding that past relationship, Jackson Furniture allegedly manufactured furniture with fabric patterns that infringe at least five different copyright protected fabrics owned by Swavelle. Based on the complaint, Swavelle has registrations on three of the five fabric patterns. The complaint does not allege that Swavelle has pending applications for the other two fabric patterns or if an application on such works was ever filed and rejected. However, Swavelle's copyright infringement claims only allege infringement of the three registered works.

The case represents an aggressive enforcement action by a copyright holder against a manufacturer and retailers. Typically we see right-holders going after other "knock-off" manufacturers. Only in aggressive circumstances do we see retailers named as defendants.


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