Friday, December 16, 2005

Glass Blowers Fight it Out

Here is a link to a story about an interesting suit going on in Seattle, a rare suit by one glass-blower against a former employee. The case is at an odd stage, since plaintiff does not appear to have identified which works are infringed, something that might lead to wonder if protection is being sought for style, concepts or ideas. There are, however, anecdotes in the article about verbatim copying. Still, originality itself is still required, and in the Ninth Circuit, there is precedent, referred to (although not by name) that took a dim view of the field. That case is Satava v. Lowry, a 1993 opinion involving a glass sculpture of a jelly fish (the link to this version of the opinion helpfully has a picture of the sculpture). As in the Washington case, there was testimony about confusing defendant's work for plaintiff's. But the Ninth Circuit found that plaintiff's selection and combination of elements were unoriginal. The same argument will no doubt be made in Washington.


Anonymous said...

I've always wondered what it would take for Mr. Chihuly to bring suit, which is apparently an element of bad faith. He was a huge pioneer in the art glass movement and many glass artists have emulated (imitated?) him for many years. It will be an interesting exercise trying to sort out copying from inspiration, because his influence is so pervasive.

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