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Copyright Blog

Rug Wars: Rival Retailers Clash in Educational Copyright Dispute

Educational Resource Manufacturer Files Lawsuit Against Contending Distribution Company for the Unauthorized Selling of "Infringing Rugs"

In April 2022, Kev & Cooper LLC ("Kev & Cooper") filed a lawsuit against Gladwell LLC ("Gladwell") in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, alleging that Gladwell had created and sold educational rugs that were copies of Kev & Cooper's copyrighted designs. Kev & Cooper claimed that the rugs produced by Gladwell infringed its intellectual property rights and caused significant damage to its business.

Original by Kev & Cooper
Later Design by Gladwell

In response, Gladwell filed a motion to dismiss, denying the allegations and arguing that since the creator of the infringing rugs, Omer Copur ("Copur"), was a co-founder and managing member of Kev & Cooper LLC, the rug designs did not belong to Kev & Cooper under the work-for-hire doctrine, which specifically states that only "works prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment" may qualify as such.

The "work for hire" doctrine is a legal principle that allows an employer to claim ownership of works created by an employee during the course of their employment. However, if the creator of the work is not an employee or is not working within the scope of their employment, the "work-for-hire" doctrine does not apply, and the creator retains the copyright to their work.

Kev & Cooper countered that Gladwell's interpretation of the "work for hire" doctrine was inappropriate, as Copur was much more than just an employee, having contributed significantly to the company's operations and creative process over the years. Kev & Cooper further claimed that Gladwell does not and cannot challenge the existence of Plaintiff's copyright or the validity of its registration based on the work-made-for-hire provision of the Copyright Act.

This case is still open and waiting for judgment or resolution. We will provide updates going forward.