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The Little Band of White That Forced a Design Copyright Fight


This writer is worn out and he wasn’t even at South by Southwest this weekend. So in the interest of keeping things light, here’s something to put into the strange copyright battles file. Dixie Consumer Products and Huhtamaki Americas Inc. have just finished up in federal court over a suit filed by Dixie who said their competitor had copied their cup design. The issue at hand? The small band of white around the bottom of the cups (for reference: here’s one and here’s the other). This has apparently been an issue the two have been fighting out in court for the past two years, but like all previous attempts, the decision always went in favor of Huhtamaki, with what sounds like the judges’ repeatedly saying, in essence, “What’s the big deal? It’s a strip of white.” We know it must be serious business to the people involved, but it reads very funny:

Dixie even provided alternative designs for Huhtamaki to adopt to differentiate its cup from Dixie’s, according to the judge’s order.

“Because Huhtamaki would either incur additional costs or sacrifice design quality if it were forced to adopt one of Dixie’s alternative designs, the court finds that the product feature in question is functional under the traditional test,” [ U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr.] wrote.

Someone should make a very compelling, The Informant-like movie about all of this.

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