THE SCOPE OF COPYRIGHT AND THE VERDICT ON H&M’S FABRIC COPYRIGHT CASE


Copyright signifies the legal right of the owner of the intellectual property. Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.” The Declaration explicitly regulates the necessity for the protection of intellectual rights as one of the fundamental human rights. Copyright is a form of protection of intellectual rights.

In intellectual rights, the equilibrium between the author and the society, national interests and external dynamics is essential, and to the extent that this balance is established, the legislation regulating the intellectual law is considered successful. One of the tools to establish this equilibrium is copyrighting the work. Copyright protects the author’s work by ensuring the prevention of the unlicensed or uncredited usage of the work.

Registration is not required for copyright to arise because the rights on intellectual and artistic works arise with the production of the work. Copyrights have an abstract nature since copyright protects the work of the author that is created by human thought [1]. Copyright is an absolute right as it can be asserted against anyone. However, various restrictions have been imposed on this absolute right for reasons such as the protection of public interest, general morality and exceptions brought for the benefit of private interest. Copyright’s scope includes the intellectual properties which have a separate and independent legal status from the material they embody.

Textile and apparel design company Unicolors Inc. sued H&M on the basis that H&M sells garments that infringe on one of the designs of Unicolors. A decision was given in favor of Unicolors, confirming that H&M infringed the copyrights of Unicolors. Following the decision, H&M appealed, arguing that Unicolors did not have a valid copyright registration for the design, which is a precondition that must be fulfilled in order to file a copyright infringement lawsuit. H&M argued that even though there were separate designs, Unicolors registered all the designs as a single unit registration to avoid paying multiple application fees. The 9th Circuit reversed the decision by finding the copyright of the Unicolors’ design invalid [2]. Then the lawsuit was taken before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided that in spite of the inaccuracies during the application, the copyright can survive if the inaccuracies were based on good faith misreading the law [3].


REFERENCES:

· [1]https://web.archive.org/web/20151120073252/http://www.telifhaklari.gov.tr/Telif-Hakki-Nedir

· [2] https://www.loeb.com/en/insights/publications/2020/06/unicolors-v-hm

·[3]https://www.reuters.com/legal/transactional/us-supreme-court-overturns-hm-win-fabric-copyright-case-2022-02-24/


Authors:

Attn M. Murat Gülgün

Hazal Kızılkaya, Legal Trainee