The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals: “This case concerns the intersection between intellectual property rights and a Mardi Gras tradition.” New Orleans Mardi Gras parade onlookers receive strands of beads thrown by parade “krewes.” The onlookers can create “bead dogs” by twisting the strands of beads into the shape of a dog. Haydel Enterprises, which also owns a bakery that sells special Mardi Gras cakes, commissioned an artist to design a “Mardi Gras Bead Dog” mascot. Haydel’s jewelry mascot is made of sterling silver. Haydel received USPTO trademark registrations for the MARDI GRAS BEAD DOG word mark and for its design mark. Haydel also received a copyright registration from the Copyright Office for its jewelry design.
Raquel Duarte sells jewelry and accessories through her business, Nola Spice Designs. Duarte sells a bead dog that she makes from beads and wire, which she learned to do as a child. Nola Spice Designs received a cease and desist letter from Haydel. Nola Spice Designs sued Haydel for a declaratory judgment that its actions do not violate trademark law and sought the cancellation of Haydel’s trademark. Haydel asserted trademark infringement and copyright infringement counterclaims against Nola Spice. This post focuses on the Fifth Circuit’s copyright infringement discussion.