276 F.2d 443 (2nd Cir. 1960), 304, Millworth Converting Corp. v. Slifka

Docket Nº:304, 305, Dockets 26134, 26135.
Citation:276 F.2d 443, 125 U.S.P.Q. 506
Party Name:MILLWORTH CONVERTING CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Joseph SLIFKA and Sylvia Slifka, etc., et al., Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:March 17, 1960
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Page 443

276 F.2d 443 (2nd Cir. 1960)

125 U.S.P.Q. 506



Joseph SLIFKA and Sylvia Slifka, etc., et al., Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 304, 305, Dockets 26134, 26135.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

March 17, 1960

Argued March 4, 1960.

Page 444

Robert W. Adler, New York City (Ruben Schwartz, New York City, on the brief), for plaintiff-respondent.

Isidore A. Seltzer, New York City (Arnold R. Krakower, New York City, on the brief), for defendants-appellants.

Before LUMBARD, Chief Judge, and MOORE and FRIENDLY, Circuit Judges.

FRIENDLY, Circuit Judge.

As in Peter Pan Fabrics, Inc. v. Martin Weiner Corp., 2 Cir., 274 F.2d 487, these appeals from orders granting temporary injunctions bring before us questions arising from the use of copyright to protect fabric designs.

Plaintiff owns two copyrights for designs known as 'No. 965-Embroiderette' and 'No. 652-Embroiderette.' The certificates are in the form used by the Register of Copyrights for 'reproductions of a work of art, ' 17 U.S.C. 5(h); the nature of the work is described as 'Design.' The designs covered by the two copyrights are identical in form, but the fabrics differ somewhat in appearance since No. 965 was printed on a white and No. 652 on a checked red-and-white background. However, as the legal questions are the same, we shall generally discuss the case as if only one copyright were involved.

In contrast with Peter Pan, the design that plaintiff's fabric reproduced was not original with it. Plaintiff had seen the design embroidered on a dress which its stylist bought. The embroidery was what is known in the trade as 'Schiffli, ' this referring to a machine making embroidery of quality. Plaintiff's stylist had the embroidered design photographed and then worked with its fabric printer for some months to develop an arrangement of varying colors that would give on a flat surface something of the three-dimensional effect of embroidery. Plaintiff copyrighted a fabric reproduction so made in the summer of 1959, and offered the fabrics for sale to dress manufacturers shortly thereafter. No question is raised as to plaintiff's compliance with 17 U.S.C. 10 concerning the copyright notice, see Peter Pan v. Martin Weiner Corp., supra.

At the end of 1959, defendants began to market among dress manufacturers fabrics which plaintiff claims to infringe its copyrights. One of plaintiff's salesmen testified that a salesman of defendants, to whom he had complained of defendants' copying, admitted they had purchased a dress containing plaintiff's copyrighted design. Defendants offered no evidence to rebut the inference from this.

At the end of January, 1960, plaintiffs brought two actions in the Southern District of New York for infringement of their respective copyrights. Plaintiffs sought temporary injunctions. Judge Dawson directed a hearing; this was held on February 1. Acting with dispatch, the judge handed down on February 9 an opinion directing that temporary injunctions issue; orders to that end were entered on February 15. Defendants appealed to this Court, 28 U.S.C. 1292(a)(1), and moved for stays. When these motions came on for argument on February 29, Judge Clark, who was presiding, pointed out that, because of the relatively short lives of designs such as these, decisions...

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