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ODEGARD INC. v. SAFAVIEH CARPETS

November 8, 2005.

ODEGARD INC., Plaintiff,
v.
SAFAVIEH CARPETS, INC. and SAFAVIEH, INC., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT SWEET, District Judge

OPINION

Defendants Safavieh Carpets, Inc. and Safavieh, Inc. ("Safavieh") have moved pursuant to Rule 56, Fed.R.Civ.P., for summary judgment to dismiss the claim of copyright infringement contained in the complaint of plaintiff Odegard Inc. ("Odegard"). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

  Prior Proceedings

  On June 2, 2004, Odegard filed its complaint alleging causes of action for copyright infringement, unfair competition, conversion and unjust enrichment arising out of the alleged substantial similarity between the Mahogany carpet in Safavieh's Rodeo Drive collection and the Takyu III design in Odegard's Kyoto collection. An answer containing affirmative defenses and counterclaims was filed and Odegard filed its reply. Discovery was had and the instant motion was marked fully submitted on July 13, 2005.

  The Facts

  The facts are set forth in the parties' Local Rule 56.1 Statements. For the purposes of this motion, Safavieh does not challenge Odegard's assertion that Safavieh had access to Odegard's Takyu III design. Odegard designs, manufactures, and sells Tibetan carpets. Among its various lines of carpets, Odegard sells a design called "Takyu III."

  Stephanie Odegard is the president of Odegard who created the Takyu III design in the middle to late 1990's, elements of which were inspired by and derived from an antique Japanese Kimono depicting vines. Odegard sells the Takyu III carpet as part of its "Kyoto Collection."

  Takyu III is a hand-drawn design. The work "takyu" means vine in the Tibetan language, perhaps a particular vine. The spindly vines in Takyu III turn and curl in every direction. In Takyu III some of the vines spill from the broken border into the large open field at the center of the design. Most of the vines in Takyu III have stems and leaves and curlicues. Some of the vines in Takyu III have multiple leaves on the vine stems and have a floralesque aspect. Most of the vines in Takyu III are curvilinear, constituting a curvy design rather than a geometric, straight-edge design. The blocks of color in the border of the Takyu III design are separated by straight edges between them except that the handmade process sometimes alters the straight appearance. Each edge between the colored blocks in the border of Takyu III consists of a narrow scissored line. Borders are common elements in carpet design while broken borders are not. Branches of plants are common elements in carpet design. The combination of patterned borders (but not broken borders) and floral motifs were commonly used in carpets before the middle to late 1990's.

  Odegard carpets are known for their "contemporary classic" design.

  U.S. Copyright Registration No. VA-1-035-311 for the Takyu III fabric design identified the textile design created by Odegard known as "Takyu" as a preexisting work on which Odegard holds a copyright registration and identified the material added to the work as motifs selected from "Takyu" and made into a new design layout. The fabric design known as "Takyu III" was created by Stephanie Odegard.

  In addition, the unrebutted affidavit of Stephanie Odegard, president of Odegard, describes her background, including service in the Peace Corp., familiarity with Tibetan products, and the development and establishment of Odegard and its success in the design world. Odegard is preeminent in the importation of hand-knotted woolen carpets, its sales exceed $10 million and its sales of 350 Takyu III rugs have produced $1.6 million in revenues. Odegard has spent $300,000 between 2000 and 2004 advertising the Takyu III rug. Stephanie Odegard described in detail the process by which she created the Takyu III design.

  Safavieh sells carpets in the United States and among its many designs Safavieh sells a collection called the "Rodeo Drive Collection" which includes a carpet design named "Mahogany." Sales of the Mahogany design totalled $5,196.20 and have been discontinued.

  Albert Laboda ("Laboda"), the employee of Safavieh who created the Mahogany design of Safavieh used a computer to create the Mahogany design. Laboda, who was employed for about a year, is no longer an employee of Safavieh and is a missing witness.

  Odegard advertised its Takyu III design from 2000 to 2004 in prominent design magazines, many of which are ...


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