Star Fabrics, Inc. is suing Cost Plus, a well-known retailer, for copyright infringement of artwork on fabric. Los Angeles based Star Fabrics owns a two-dimensional artwork print registered with the U.S. Copyright Office (Reg. No. VA 1-764-261). Star Fabrics alleges that Cost Plus had access to their two-dimensional fabric design due to Star Fabrics’ widespread dissemination of the fabric to numerous parties in the fashion and apparel industries. Star Fabrics alleges that Cost Plus and other defendants created garments with the same copyrighted design and sold them with a World Market label.
To prove copyright infringement, proof of ownership of the allegedly copied work as well as copying of the protected elements of the copyrighted design are required. Narell v. Freeman, 872 F.2d 907, 910 (9th Cir. 1989). Star Fabrics’ certificate of copyright registration is prima facie evidence of validity and ownership. Next, because there is likely no direct evidence of copying, Star Fabrics must prove that the defendants had access to its design and that the two designs are substantially similar. Star Fabrics lists many ways in which the defendants may have had access to their design, including their showroom, illegally distributed copies of the design by vendors, or access to materials in the marketplace lawfully using the pattern.