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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017 9 months ago

Winter Park business sues Walmart over copyright infringement

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Rifle Paper Co. claims Walmart and textile product importer Beco used its floral design without permission.
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

A Winter Park business is suing Walmart for copyright infringement of one of their creative works.

Rifle Paper Co., located at 558 W. New England Ave., filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Wal-Mart.com USA LLC and textile product importer Beco Industries Ltd., claiming they copied a floral design and used it on various products.

The lawsuit states that Beco, selling through Walmart, used a “Spanish Rose Design” created by artist Anna Bond and exclusively licensed by the Winter Park business. Rifle Paper holds each of the copyright registrations and has used the design on a phone case, a greeting card, a notebook, a desktop notepad and an assorted card set.

“Beco has infringed and continues to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights within this District and throughout the United States by using the Spanish Rose Design in connection with the manufacturing, distributing, offering for sale, and selling of certain home-textile products under the ‘Mainstays’ brand,” the lawsuit reads. “The Infringing Textile Products incorporate floral artwork that is strikingly similar or, alternatively, substantially similar to Plaintiffs’ Spanish Rose Design.”

Beco has “allowed and facilitated the Infringing Design’s use by other manufacturers in products incorporating the Infringing Design,” the suit reads. These include Ever Grace Industry Limited, Huisen Furniture (Longnan) Co. Ltd., Idea Nuova Global, Inc., Tangshan Daxin Ceramics Co., Ltd., HMS Mfg. Co., and other manufacturers.

The design in question features a dark blue background with flowers in shades of pink with green leaves surrounding them. Products sold by Beco to Walmart and then to customers included bedding, sheets, blankets, throws and bed pillows.

Both designs are shown in a side-by-side comparison in the lawsuit.

“As these images show, Beco simply swapped the colors of the larger rose and smaller rose and removed the detail work in the leaves and baby’s breath stems,” the lawsuit reads.

Rifle Paper also states the design has been publicly available through major national and international retail outlets such as Barnes & Noble, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Hallmark, Anthropologie and Birchbox since 2013.

To date, Rifle Paper and its licensees have sold more than 350,000 units of products incorporating the Spanish Rose Design, the lawsuit reads.

Rifle Paper Co. first launched via riflepaperco.com in November 2009 as a small business owned by husband-and-wife team Nathan and Anna Bond. The business has since grown into an international brand. The business creates, produces, markets, and sells greeting cards, postcards, invitations, stationery, calendars, journals, notepads and other printed materials.

Walmart and Beco each were sent a notice to cease and desist but have “failed and refused” to comply as of the lawsuit’s Dec. 8 filing.

“We take this seriously, and we are reviewing a copy of the complaint,” Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove said. “We’ll file a response to the allegations in court, but at this time we’re reviewing the complaint.”

Beco did not respond to a request for comment.

Tim Freed is an Associate Editor with the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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