Friday, 23 March 2012

Fabric copyright laws

well I have been hearing alot at the moment on the yahoo groups I subscribe to about fabric copyright laws. I didn't even know until reading these that they existed. I would never of thought about not being able to use fabric in my quilt because if I sell it I have breached copyright laws.
I don't really understand why someone who designs fabric for quilting could even place such laws on the fabric. after all quilting and being made into a patchwork quilt is what the fabric was designed for. Patchwork and Quilting is a huge business and it is a business for people to show and sell their products. It seems that you have to check fabric to make sure it isn't copyrighted.
I do know that in embroidery patterns some items have copyright laws. Disney items can't be used on any items that you sell, so if you are making something that you want to sell make sure you don't use Disney patterns.
here is a quote from one of the yahoo blogs from a couple of lawyer about licensing laws and copyright.
"We have located two federal courts cases concerning the use of fabric to make items to sell:

In Precious Moments vs La Infantil, 1997, the federal court invoked the first sale doctrine in denying Precious Moments attempts to block the use of its licensed fabrics to make bedding for sale. The 1st Circuit Court said making a fabric item from fabric lacked any originality so it was not copyright infringement. Since then, M&M/Mars, Disney Enterprises, Major League Baseball, United Media (Peanuts fabric), Sanrio (Hello Kitty fabrics), and Debbie Mumm, have been sued when these companies tried to block the eBay sales of items hand-crafted from their licensed fabrics. Every one of them settled rather than risk losing the issue in court.

In Scarves By Vera, Inc. v. American Handbags, Inc, 188 F. Supp. 255 - US: Dist. Court, SD New York 1960, American Handbags was using towels manufactured by Vera to make handbags for sale. On some of these handbags made with plaintiff's towels there could be seen, at the bottom, the name Vera coupled with the figure of a Scarab or Ladybug, all three of which were registered trademarks of Vera. The judge rejected Vera's copyright claims.

It should be noted that in both cases the judges required the defendants to provide disclaimers attached to the items because the items were being sold in stores. The disclaimers were to plainly disavow any relationship between the manufacturer of the item and the trademark owner. This was done so "an ordinary, intelligent purchaser" would not be misled that there was any connection. When selling on-line, a prominent, highly visible and well-placed disclaimer, such as our recommended Tabberone Disclaimer, would likely serve the same purpose and legal need as the disclaimers required by the courts. Precious Moments disclaimer court quotation and Scarves By Vera disclaimer court quotation.

Licensed fabric means the fabric is licensed by the rights owner to be manufactured and sold. It does not mean the fabric is licensed at the time it is sold. A license on the use of the fabric requires the person buying it to agree, usually in writing, to conditions on the use of the fabric before paying for the fabric. If you do not agree to the "license" before purchasing, they will sell the fabric to you anyway. In fact, no one even asks you if you agree to the license. They just sell you the fabric. Any fabric sold without a signed mutual agreement prior to the sale is not licensed and there are no provisions in the law that allow for otherwise. Any one who tells you otherwise is lying. And, under the definition of a "license", they would record your name and address, require periodic payments, and demand the fabric be returned to them when you are done with it. That just does not happen."

Thanks for listening! Happy Quilting!

--- In, Irene Frederick <ifrederick01@...> wrote:
> I decided to google the topic myself, and found a site with explinations of
> a number of lawsuits regarding fabric. Here's the site:

makes for some interesting reading.


  1. Thanks for the plug but neither I or MrTabberone are lawyers. I'm an accountant and MrTabberone is a computer programmer.

    We got involved in all this because companies kept shutting us down. When we fought back they settled in our favor.

  2. I am glad that they settled in your favour. It annoys me when big companies think that they can shut down the smaller ones. We had a legal fight with a big company a few years back also not over copyright laws. We were lucky that they settled and it didn't go to court as it was a very hard time for my family.
    thanks Karen.

  3. This is interesting. I have some Sanrio fabric and would like to make cute clothing with it to sell. What is the point of being able to purchase this expensive fabric if we can't make money from it.

  4. I totally agree, they want us to purchase their fabric which is quite expensive some times. But we are not to sell it. It makes it hard if you are always having to check each fabric you purchase for the copyright laws on that fabric.


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