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!

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Companies: couristan

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Comments on “Cosplayer Sent Cease & Desist By Carpet Company For Hotel Carpet Camouflage”

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Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: 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

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: 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.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

Logan says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Lurker Keith says:

Re: 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 .

Pragmatic says:

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’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.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

Michael (profile) says:

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.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

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.

out_of_the_blue says:

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.

SolkeshNaranek says:

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.

Andrew Norton (profile) says:

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.

Oblate (profile) says:

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…

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Pat says:

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…

nasch (profile) says:

Re: 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.

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