Cosplayer Sent Cease & Desist By Carpet Company For Hotel Carpet Camouflage

from the carpet-bombing dept

The realm of cosplay seems to hold a strange spot in intellectual property limbo, where everyone is conscious that the getups are homages to popular movies, comics and video games, but nobody really seems to do more than shrug it off. Perhaps it's because everyone realizes these people are fans and are probably doing way more good than harm in expressing their fandom, or perhaps it's because you just shouldn't take the kind of forty year old guy willing to dress up in a Hello Kitty outfit to court and expect any good to come out of it. Either way, you typically don't see a great deal of hand-wringing by media companies over cosplaying.

But carpet companies are apparently a different story. Harrison Krix, a prop-builder and cosplayer, put together an incredibly cool camouflage outfit for DragonCon in Atlanta. The design was based off of the carpet used by the host of the convention, Marriot Marquis Atlanta.

Then Krix decided to sell the fabric he made so that other visitors to the convention the following year would be able to melt into the floors of the hotel as well. That's when the manufacturer of the carpet sent him a cease and desist.

Seems Krix was selling some of the fabric he made for the costumes on textile site Spoonflower, so that others could make their own for next year's show. He's since had to pull the design, having received a Cease and Desist from Couristan.
Someone, anyone, is going to have to tell me in what strange, stupid world it makes even a semblance of sense for Couristan to go legal on a dude selling outfits. Yes, they're based on the carpet design. Yes, they're designed specifically to look exactly like the carpet. But so what? Krix isn't competing with Couristan. The company isn't going to lose any business because he mocked up camouflage based on its carpet. What the hell?

In fact, this could have been an opportunity for Couristan to build up some good will around its name by acting human. Or, at the very least, it could have sat back and done absolutely nothing. Going legal seems to be the only possible choice that could produce a negative consequence, like getting the company name in lights for pulling a d-bag move. Well, done, Couristan!



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 12:04pm

    Hands up if you kept reading Courtesan all along the article.

    Excuse-me as I re-read the article misreading this specific word for extended laughter.

     

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  2.  
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    Michael, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 12:50pm

    I am glad they have brought this to my attention. If they had not, I may have (at some point) been drawn into purchsing carpet from this company. However, having seen this HORRIBLY DISGUSTING EXCUSE FOR A FREAKING CARPET PATTERN, I will be sure to never purchase anything from them.

    Oh, and I also think they are stupid-heads for going legal on something like this.

     

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  3.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 12:51pm

    The shocking thing

    The shocking thing is that Couristan is willing to publicly acknowledge that they created that hideous design in the first place.

     

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  4.  
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    Michael, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 12:52pm

    Re:

    Seriously - I think that is what it would look like it PacMan vommitted after a decent score.

     

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  5.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    Re:

    Damn it Ninja. Now I'm reading the article and seeing 'Courtesan' too! (And imagining Japanese courtesans wearing kimonos with that carpet pattern on the fabric.)

    In all seriousness though, it looks like Courtesan's C&D is perfectly justified. There's probably a trademark on that specific design that they need to enforce, especially if Mr. Krix is using it commercially, instead of just for personal use, like he did by selling the fabric with said design without the company's permission.

    Stupid? Yes, but that's the messed up world of IP law for you.

     

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  6.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 12:58pm

    Re: The shocking thing

    Eh, it's not that bad. Seems par for the course as far as hotel carpet designs are concerned. Kinda looks like something you might hallucinate after ingesting a large amount of LSD.

     

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  7.  
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    davnel, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 1:06pm

    OK, I agree the carpet could have been perhaps a little more sedate, I mean REALLY! However you have to admit those costumes are absolutely spectacular and blend in pretty well.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Grabbing some popcorn...

    This should be good! you can make/wear clothing of any iconic appearance... just so long as you do not affix any registered items such as logo's or trademarks.

    This carpet company will get "stomped" all over if they press the issue.

     

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  9. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 1:13pm

    To prevent even worse stupidity!

    Answer to "tell me in what strange, stupid world it makes even a semblance of sense for Couristan to go legal on a dude selling outfits."

    Yes, Timmy, in YOUR strange, stupid world is must make a semblance of sense, 'cause you're the one went with this trivial topic, NOT ME.

    And now we all know what FINE carpet Couristan makes! FREE advertising! 'Cause the type of people who buy prestigious carpet will see this as a positive.

     

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  10.  
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    Michael, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re:

    There's probably a trademark on that specific design that they need to enforce

    1) You never NEED to enforce a trademark - they could have licensed this or ignored it without ill effect
    2) Unless they also have a line of clothing that happens to have this particularly horrible pattern, the markets do not overlap and it is unlikely that they have a trademark claim at all

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    Re: To prevent even worse stupidity!

    @out_of_the_poo...

    Not to feed any trolls, but "free advertising" can be said of any bit of news that hits the feeds. Maybe you should cry over something more important... like spilled milk or something.

     

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  12.  
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    Michael, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    Re: To prevent even worse stupidity!

    Cause the type of people who buy prestigious carpet will see this as a positive

    The type of people who buy prestigious carpet will, in fact, throw up when they look at that pattern.

    I honestly cannot see how this could go well for Couristan.

     

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  13.  
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    SolkeshNaranek (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    Normally I too would laugh at something as ridiculous as this cease and desist order.

    However, as previously pointed out my many others here, that carpet pattern need to disappear. In that vein of thought, I say thank you to the carpet company for their attempt at stopping the reproduction of that horrible pattern and potentially saving the eyesight of hundreds (if not thousands) of good folk.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    Note to self, do not buy carpet from that company of carpet baggers.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 1:25pm

    Re:

    Come now, Courtesans have much more sense and empathy that those company bosses, its essential to their trade.

     

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  16.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 1:31pm

    Re:

    Completely my thoughts as well.

    Gawd that's an ugly carpet. By eyes are bleeding and I think the guy in the next cubicle is having an epilectic fit after looking over my shoulder at that pic.

     

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  17.  
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    Andrew Norton (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 1:42pm

    I almost tripped over them at least once (they were hard to see, plus *people*. And most of the weekend, I was in pain, having ruptured my knee during one of the panels I hosted Friday night (TPB-AFK showing, with Q+A, ISPs and 6 strikes, and Pseudonym rights)

    Quick note though, The Marriot-Marquis is not 'the host hotel', it's 'one of the host hotels'. It's such a big event, that it takes up five (The Marriott, the hyatt, the Hilton, the Sheraton and the Westin) and the Americas Mart was added as a 6th host building this year.

    That said, since I was made aware of this last week, I've been doing some digging, and it may be that the company doesn't own the pattern at all. More info when I get it.

     

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  18.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 1:46pm

    Re: To prevent even worse stupidity!

    How would a company litigating its trademarks be seen as a positive to the customer? How does the end customer benefit? Why would they even care?

     

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  19.  
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    Oblate (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 1:53pm

    I go to conventions a few times a year, often with committee meetings held in rooms with carpet equivalently awful to that in the article. As much as I would have loved to be able to disappear at some of those meetings, never once have I thought of actually dressing like the carpet- until now. Or instead of disappearing, maybe I could just lay low (floor level) until I'm needed for a motion or a vote...

    My next committee meeting just got a lot more interesting...

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 2:01pm

    They should've dressed up as Barbara Streisand instead.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    Re:

    I would love to be a fly on the wall at that meeting.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    It doesn't appear identical... is there really a legit claim?

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    2) Trademark seems completely out of the question if the object of the infringement is the clothes, so we are most likely talking copyright. The defense of those aggressively enforcing copyright is their future possibility to license their designs for fees. In this case I will assume that the carpet manufacturer is banking on some extreme changes in peoples perception of carpets in the far end of the copyright period. Something as common as the patterns of that carpet should not attract much attention today.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 2:38pm

    Everyone infringes on something in someones eyes. This is a sign of an unjust system.

     

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  25.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 2:38pm

    Easy

    When I first saw these pics, I didn't realize they were using the exact carpet pattern. Which means the fix is to do a *similar* pattern, which might work even better given the contours of a human body vs. a flat surface.

     

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  26.  
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    PRMan, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 2:42pm

    Re:

    Even if it's exact, there's never been anything like that in fashion. I would find it hard to believe there is any sort of claim here. That doesn't mean that a carpet company can't ruin cosplayers lives for a couple years though.

     

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  27.  
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    jackn, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Re:

    Trademark on a carpet pattern. You better hang out at different sites.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 3:20pm

    The carpet company is so greedy, they can't stand to watch someone else make any money. The carpet company want's their cut of somebody else's idea, just like the MAFIAA.

     

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  29.  
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    anonymouse, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 3:24pm

    Re:

    If the carpet company had taken this to court the courts would have thrown it out as stupid. Sadly it would probably cost too much to defend so money talks in the american justice system yet again.

     

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  30.  
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    Drew, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 3:24pm

    Smart move!

    Camouflaged carpet divers can be very dangerous.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 3:36pm

    I don't have a problem with this enforcement. If they had just worn the suits they made, there wouldn't have been any issue. The problems started when they began selling fabric with the pattern.

    Make suits and wear them as cosplay? Awesome example of personal use. Making a fabric that is a copy of someone else's design and then selling it? That's profiting from someone else's work.

     

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  32.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 4:09pm

    Re: The shocking thing

    As an attendee of way too many hotel-based conferences, I can say that I've seen that pattern many times. It appears to be popular among large conference-hosting hotels. I have no idea why. Perhaps to distract you from the fact that you're stuck in a hotel at a boring conference all day, and instead wondering who would buy such a rug.

     

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  33.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I never said that I liked the idea, just that it might be the case.

    Though on review, this does appear to be more a copyright issue instead of trademark.

     

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  34.  
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    James Burkhardt (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 5:22pm

    Re: Re:

    NO trademark concern here....as a carpet manufacturer is unlikely to have a clothing trdaemark, and more importantly, the trademark would already be considered generic. Its a basic mosaic pattern. I don't see any general mosaic pattern and associate it with a specific company. A similar mosaic design wouldn't make me think that Cortesan made the carpet....Because no one knows who the fuck they are.

    Also, as Ive noted in the past, the use it or lose it doctrine is way overblown in the market. But in this case, the company's trademark would have been needed to be enforced in other way, ensuring people knew that this carpet was theirs (before infringement).

    On the copyright side, general mosaics are easy to establish non-dirivative and/or fair use on. here it is quite clear that the fabric is in fact dirivative of the carpet, so Fair use must be our key. The original work can be considered factual, and despite him 'selling' the fabric, its a clear non-commercial use, as the distribution of fabric is a hobby, not a business. The fabric uses much of the actual design, but that is mitigated by the fact that, if it was unconnected to the carpet, the design is so highly transformative it is unlikely to be recognized. The shapes needed to be warbed and scaled to fit presepective. This design does not replace the need for a carpet with this design. It doesn't impact that market at all. This is highly indicative of Fair Use.

     

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  35.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 5:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but failure to actively use a registered trademark or enforce it when there's major infringement after a certain period of time may risk that trademark getting removed on the grounds of non-use (however, another party has to apply for this removal from the register for this to happen).

    However, as the AC mentioned above, it's more likely a copyright issue instead of trademark.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 5:33pm

    Re: To prevent even worse stupidity!

    out_of_the_blue just hates it when due process is enforced.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 5:35pm

    Re:

    Haha! Guilty. I just had to go back and check it *wasn't* courtesan.

    Henceforth, Couristan shall be known as "Courtesan the D-Bag Carpet Company"

     

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  38.  
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    James Burkhardt (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    While technically correct, you ignore some of the reasons this is angering, as well as several details commonly ignored to justify the 'use it or lose it' doctrine of Trademarks.

    1) Establishing a licence to use a trademark also protects that trademark, and can be approached far more civilly. In this case the hobby production of a clothing fabric which doesn't directly conform to the specific layout of a carpet that the company doesn't even display on its homepage (so really hard to have a design trademark)? Screams for a more cautious hand.

    2) Given the narrowness of trademark, infringement is often claimed where none exists. Common examples:
    Using the name Coke or Coca-Cola when discussing the actual Coca-Cola product.

    Using the brand and model name of a lamp when giving a bad review

    Using the name of your competitor when making a factual comparison.

    These are almost never infringing as trademark doesn't prevent the use of the word, only the use of the word in a manner designed or likely to confuse customers.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 6:59pm

    Re: Re: The shocking thing

    Here's a New Yorker story about it, and a news article. They're thought to keep people awake, to hide stains, and in casinos, to keep people looking up (at the gambling tables/machines). Las Vegas is known for particularly garish carpets.

     

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  40.  
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    James Burkhardt (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 7:03pm

    Re:

    A) Copyright protection is at a very low ability for this carpet. see my post above on the four factor test. remember, profit motive does not eliminate far use B) they might not even own the design. C)its a pretty generic mosaic design even if they do. How is such an infinitely reproducible design generic?

     

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  41.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 7:35pm

    Re: Re:

    Maybe the wallpaper people will be less litigious then the carpet manufacturers.

     

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  42.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 7:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: The shocking thing

    That might be why this is going on. The carpet company is pissed that someone's drawing attention to something specifically designed not to be looked at.

     

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  43.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 7:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I thought the "Use it or lose it" doctrine only came in when the trademark is at risk of becoming generic.

     

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  44.  
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    Lurker Keith, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 9:41pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    There's something you left out.

    He had to use that pattern for the intended purpose: to blend into that carpet. He couldn't have done it any other way. I'm pretty sure that's also something that's looked at.



    Sorry it's been a while since I last commented. Been busy playing NSA the game... uh, I mean Splinter Cell: Blacklist. It actually has a network set up similar to the NSA spying on everyone, connected to the SMI (forgot what that stands for, but it's what you get mission briefings from): it gathers & analyzes data from everything it's plugged into.

    Next month (or possibly early November, I'll be getting NSA the game II, aka .

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Lurker Keith, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 9:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Not sure how that got cut off. I know I typed it. @_@

    ...NSA the game II, aka Watch_Dogs.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 10:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "The design superimposed on a fabric is copyrightable, whereas the style of the dress (even an expensive Parisian couturier's design) in which the fabric is used is not - no matter how original, ornamental, or nonessential for function that design may be. 1 M. Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright 2.08[H] (1979)."

    Sure they have the copyright. But rather than send a cease and desist, why werem't the carpet company's lawyers smart enough to suggest they could simply contact the cosplayer and offer to license the fabric in return for a percentage of profits? I just don't see the benefit. If the cosplayer is ordered to cease and desist, the cosplayer and his friends get miffed and hate the venue for their shitty carpet, the carpet company gets negative publicity, and gets no profit nor promise of future profits, from the activities of the cosplayer.

    FYI specific info on licensing fabrics.
    http://www.tabberone.com/Trademarks/CopyrightLaw/LicensedFabric.shtml

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2013 @ 11:13pm

    Re:

    Who cares if they're "profiting from someone else's work?" The carpet company is not selling carpet clothing.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2013 @ 1:22am

    Re: To prevent even worse stupidity!

    This wouldn't prevent shit, let alone "even worse stupidity".

    Exhibit: You. There, even worse stupidity, and it's not even prevented!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2013 @ 1:23am

    Re:

    Yeah, I mean it's not like Disney copy someone else's design and sells it or anything...

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Wolfy, Sep 24th, 2013 @ 3:27am

    I'd have told 'em, "Go pound sand." The camo is nothing but some lines and background color in a similarcolor and line width. Not even close to the horrible pattern design of the carpet.

     

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  51.  
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    Pat, Sep 24th, 2013 @ 6:28am

    Makes me wonder...

    Really makes me wonder, at what point, exactly, in the corporate ladder does a person completely lose all common sense and decides to replace it entirely with a team of lawyers?

    Further more, one would also have to ask in what college class do medical student get to practice their surgical skills by lobotomizing the part of the brain responsible for common sense on all Law students...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
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    Shon Gale (profile), Sep 24th, 2013 @ 6:38am

    Couristan accomplished one thing. They lost lot's of future customers.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Sep 24th, 2013 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re:

    If I suggest that a little courtesy on Krix's part would have prevented Couristan from going legal, is that a step too far?

    I've seen things I like online and asked the person who created or uploaded the image, and have always been told I could use them, even though it was for an ad-supported website. All they wanted in return was a link to their website and a bit of credit.

    It only takes a moment to send an email or make a call.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
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    Pragmatic, Sep 24th, 2013 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's not about the legality or what the rights or wrongs are; in a litigious society, it's worth considering covering your ass.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
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    ahow628 (profile), Sep 24th, 2013 @ 6:43am

    Missed opportunity here

    Would have loved to see the carpet company release or do a mock-up of a new pattern that is just covered with humans in regular clothing. Or maybe naked would work too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 24th, 2013 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If I suggest that a little courtesy on Krix's part would have prevented Couristan from going legal, is that a step too far?

    I might - might - have asked the hotel if it was OK, but it would not have even crossed my mind to try to contact the carpet manufacturer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 24th, 2013 @ 8:10am

    Re:

    Couristan accomplished one thing. They lost lot's of future customers.

    Very unlikely. Their customers (hotels) are not going to care if they make legal threats to random convention goers, as long as they leave the hotels out of it. And if they sell to individuals, well hardly any of them would have even heard about this, let alone give a hoot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    Logan, Sep 24th, 2013 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    They could have simply licensed him to use the design for free in the context of making these outfits. But really, his design is only similar to theirs. Look at his shapes, he has smaller triangles and irregular shapes. He also has some sort of cross hatching in the blue section that isn't there. The carpet company is just being overly litigious.

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2013 @ 5:49pm

    Re:

    Holy shit! Carpet diving ninjas!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Sep 25th, 2013 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's the problem. We live in a society where "Intellectual Property" is a religion and people are using litigation as a business model. Until we knock that unholy edifice over, we have to cover ourselves as best we can, expecting that any douchebaggery that can take place, will take place, and with the worst possible consequences, just because they can. And because OOTB ain't the only douchebag in the pack.

    People who believe they have property rights over eye-watering (or other) patterns will attempt to enforce them and, as Mike has pointed out on many occasions, the biggest war chest decides the winner; it's often easier and cheaper to settle.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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