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Martha Stewart Sued for Stealing Invite Design

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

Maybe August 2011 should be considered Martha Stewart lawsuit month. First, Stewart settled a lawsuit that alleged her lawn chairs snipped people's fingers off. Now, she and her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, are facing a design copyright infringement lawsuit.

The suit was filed in federal court by Gregory Beauchamp, who says that Stewart published a graphic that he created in one of her magazine issues.

And, she did so twice. Granted, Beauchamp gave Stewart's company permission to print his graphic in the magazine the first time, where he was given proper credit. The second time, Beauchamp alleges that a curiously similar graphic was re-printed in another magazine issue, without credit or permission, according to TheWrap.

Beauchamp is now seeking damages, attorney's fees and court costs, as outlined in his complaint. He alleges that the design causes injury to him by diverting business away from him and by confusing the public into thinking the faux design is actually his.

Like most copyright cases, it seems that the key pieces of evidence in the case will be the image printed in the magazine and Beauchamp's copyrighted work, which was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Contrary to popular belief, registering a copyright is not necessary for one to enjoy copyright protections. Copyrights are secured once the work is created.

However, not registering a design copyright can be detrimental and can limit your available legal remedies. For example, if you register your copyright, it becomes part of the public record and can establish the facts stated in the copyright certificate. And, before you can file a copyright infringement lawsuit like Beauchamp's Martha Stewart lawsuit, registration of the copyrighted work is usually necessary.

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