RUSSELL v. TRIMFIT, INC.Civ. A. No. 75-1764.
428 F.Supp. 91 (1977)
Ethel RUSSELL, trading as Ethel Wynhym
United States District Court, E. D. Pennsylvania.
February 15, 1977.
Brian E. Appel, Kleinbard, Bell & Brecker, Philadelphia, Pa., for plaintiff.
Stuart E. Beck, Philadelphia, Pa., for defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
BRODERICK, District Judge.
This action for copyright infringement comes before the Court on defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons expressed hereinafter, this Court has determined that even when all of the issues of fact are resolved in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant is entitled to judgment. There are no genuine issues of material fact which must be decided if this case goes to trial. It is defendant's position as to its motion that even if plaintiff were able to prove all of the contested facts, defendant would nevertheless be entitled to summary judgment. For the purpose of this discussion, we shall proceed on the assumption that plaintiff will be able to produce evidence supporting all of her allegations. Therefore, in the recitation of facts as hereinafter set forth, whenever the parties are in disagreement the facts have been resolved and all inferences drawn in plaintiff's favor. It is on this basis that we summarize the facts in this case as follows:
Plaintiff claims that prior to June 14, 1969 she created an original concept for the manufacture of footwear known as "mitten toe socks" or "glove socks". Plaintiff alleges that she obtained copyright protection for her concept for toe socks by registering two drawings with the Register of Copyrights. Both copyrights are registered on Form G, which is entitled "Registration of a Claim to Copyright in a work of art or a model or design for a work of art." The first copyright states the nature of the work as a "drawing" and is entitled "The Mitten Hose for Thongs No's 1, 2, 3, 4. Hose, Pantyhose, Peds, Socks." The copyrighted drawing depicts legwear with a separate compartment for the big toe. The second copyright, also a "drawing", is entitled "Footwear with a compartment for the large toe and for each toe." This copyrighted drawing is similar to the first, except
In her first cause of action, plaintiff contends that by virtue of the copyrights she obtained an exclusive right in toe socks, and that defendant has infringed her copyrights by manufacturing and selling toe socks. Plaintiff's second cause of action is for a breach of contract which action is based on pendent jurisdiction. In this second cause of action the plaintiff claims that defendant entered into a contract with her for the design of clothing and clothing accessories, including toe socks, and alleges that defendant breached this contract by manufacturing toe socks without compensating her.
For the purpose of its motion for summary judgment, defendant concedes that plaintiff's concept for toe socks is her original creation and that the copyright registrations comply with the copyright laws. It is defendant's position, however, that plaintiff has not stated a cause of action against defendant based upon defendant's manufacture of toe socks by virtue of the copyrights which she obtained. Plaintiff contends that her copyrights prevent others from engaging in the business of manufacturing toe socks. We think that plaintiff has misconstrued the rights afforded under the Patent and Copyright laws.
It is axiomatic that there are essential differences between a patent and a copyright. These differences pertain to subject matter, conditions of protection, period of protection and the type of protection. The owner of a patent is granted an exclusive right which prevents others from making, using or selling that which is the subject matter of his patent for a period of 17 years (a maximum of 14 years for design patents). 35 U.S.C. §§ 154, 173. To be patentable, the "process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter" must be new and useful and represent a nonobvious advance. 35 U.S.C. §§ 101, 102, 103. A patent is granted only after an independent administrative inquiry and determination that these standards have been met. 35 U.S.C. § 131. This determination is subject to both administrative and judicial review. 35 U.S.C. §§ 134, 141, 145, 146.
On the other hand, a copyright does not confer an exclusive right to the idea disclosed, as does a patent. As stated in Mazer v. Stein,
The principle that a copyright protects against expression of an idea but does not bar use of the idea itself is likewise well recognized in the Acts of Congress and the Federal regulations. 37 C.F.R. § 202.1 provides:
As stated in 17 U.S.C. § 102 (which does not become effective until January 1, 1978):
In this case we have encountered no difficulty in distinguishing between the idea and the expression of the idea. The defendant manufactured and sold toe socks. There is no allegation that the defendant at any time produced, manufactured, sold or distributed any copies of the plaintiff's drawings. Although it is defendant's contention that the idea for these toe socks was not an original idea of the plaintiff, it has conceded for the purpose of this summary judgment motion that the concept is her original creation. We have found on the basis of this record that the defendant by manufacturing and selling toe socks has not infringed any rights which the plaintiff may have obtained under the copyright laws. There are many cases in which Courts have experienced difficulty in making the distinction between an "idea" and "its expression." For instance, in Peter Pan Fabrics, Inc. v. Martin Weiner Corp.,
Likewise, in cases where the piece of costume jewelry itself has been copyrighted, the Courts, although recognizing that the idea and its expression are virtually indistinguishable have held that the copyright did not confer a monopoly of the "idea" and did not grant protection from the manufacture and sale by others of such jewelry. Rosenthal Jewelry Corp. v. Kalpakian, supra,
As Judge Browning pointed out in Rosenthal, supra, 446 F.2d at 742,
It appears to be well-established that the copyright of a dress design does not confer a monopoly of the idea upon the copyright owner. The copyright of the design does not prevent the manufacture and sale of similar-looking dresses. In Jack Adelman, Inc. v. Sonner & Gordon, Inc.,
As set forth in Nimmer on Copyright, Vol. 1, § 27.3 at 122:
Having determined that defendant is entitled to summary judgment on the Federal copyright claim, we must determine if we should retain jurisdiction to hear the pendent claims of the plaintiff and the defendant, each of which allege a violation of state law. The standard by which we are guided is set forth as follows by the Supreme Court in United Mine Workers v. Gibbs,
See Broderick v. Associated Hospital Service of Philadelphia,
AND NOW, to wit, this 15th day of February, 1977, upon consideration of the defendant's motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff's opposition thereto, it is hereby ORDERED and DECREED that said motion is GRANTED and judgment is entered for the defendant, Trimfit, Incorporated, and against the plaintiff, Ethel Russell, trading as Ethel Wynhym; inasmuch as the Court has declined to exercise its pendent jurisdiction in connection with the state law claims of the plaintiff and defendant, plaintiff's second cause of action and defendant's counterclaim are DISMISSED.
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