District Judge Ronnie Abrams
Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings in copyright infringement claim. Plaintiffs’ copyrights covered two-dimensional designs for apparel. Plaintiffs discovered defendants were selling apparel using identical or substantially similar designs, and filed this litigation. The court held that plaintiffs were required to show that defendants’ designs were “strikingly similar” to plaintiffs’ designs to prevail on their copyright infringement claim. The court noted that striking similarity existed where 2 works were so alike that the only reasonable explanation for their similarity was that the second was copied from the first, and the possibility of independent creation, coincidence, and prior common source were practically excluded. The court rejected defendants’ assertion that plaintiffs’ “depiction of animals” was not copyrightable, holding that an original expression of an animal’s appearance, particularly its color and pose, could be eligible for copyright protection. The court denied defendants’ motion, finding it plausible that defendants’ designs were “strikingly similar” to protected elements of plaintiffs’ works since they had nearly identical patterns and unique features, although the court noted trivial differences in posture and hue.