Eastern District Addresses Copyrights and Catalogues


On Sept. 3, U.S. District Judge Denis Hurley enjoined Long Island-based Trophy Depot from infringing the trophy catalogue of Crown Awards Inc. in Crown Awards, Inc. v. Trophy Depot. Long Island is home to more than 400 businesses that market their merchandise and services through print or online catalogues. The court's decision is notable for its comprehensive treatment of the overlapping legal theories and causes of action that inevitably come into play when competitors accuse one another of unfair competitive practices. The case highlights the value of having copyright registrations in place, before litigation erupts, in view of the relative strength and simplicity of copyright claims -- as compared to unfair competition claims that require an evidentiary showing beyond simple copying. The plaintiff in Crown Awards met with limited success in seeking to enjoin the defendant's conduct beyond the outright copying of selected pages from the plaintiff's printed catalogue. On its copyright claims, however, the plaintiff won immediate, preliminary relief.

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