©2020. Published in Landslide, Vol. 13, No. 2, November/December 2020, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.
Failing to Meet the Single Unit of Publication Requirement May Be Grounds for Invalidity
Unicolors, Inc. v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, LP, 959 F.3d 1194, 2020 U.S.P.Q.2d 10599 (9th Cir. 2020). Unicolors sued retailer H&M alleging that a design Unicolors created was substantially similar to a design printed on apparel sold by H&M. The district court found in favor of Unicolors. H&M appealed on the threshold issue of whether Unicolors had a valid copyright registration for the design in question, which is necessary to bring a copyright infringement suit under the Copyright Act. Unicolors applied for registration of the design as part of a single-unit registration that included 31 separate designs. H&M argued that the resulting registration was invalid because the application included known inaccuracies. In particular, H&M alleged that Unicolors used a single copyright application to register 31 separate works; however, to register a collection of works as a single unit, the works must have been first sold or offered for sale together in an integrated manner.
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