The dress shown below was made by Samara and purchased in January 2000 at J. C. Pennys.  It is the type of dress involved in the Wal-Mart v. Samara case, but it may not have been one of the dresses on which the litigation was based.

A jury in the district court found the trade dress of this type was protectable.  The 2d Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed on this point, but it refined the description of the protected trade.  The Court had the following statement about the design:

"  We will endeavor, therefore, to outline with specificity the boundaries of Samara's protected trade dress so that on remand the district court can refashion a suitable injunction.  The protected  trade dress will include most if not all of the following elements:  seersucker fabric used exclusively; two or three identically shaped and symmetrically placed cloth appliques (not screen printed) substantially similar to appliques displaced on Samara clothing in vibrant colors integrated into the collar (which is typically large and white), collar line and/or pocket(s) (if any), single-piece, full-cut bodies; and the absence of three dimensional features, outlines and words.  Essential to the 'Samara Look' is the method by which the design elements are combined  on the garmets.  It is that amalgamation of the elements, ... 'a  distinctive combination of ingredients,' which creates the uniform, protectable Samara look. ... In particular, the placement of the appliques, typically a row of two or three, along the collar or collar line of the garment and on any pockets is essential to the look."  Samara Bros., Inc. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 165 F.3d 120, 128 and 129 (2d Cir 1998)

The U. S. Supreme Court  reviewed the case and held that the dress design was not protected, since it was a  product configuration without secondary meaning.  As discussed in this report, the U. S. Supreme Court case can be interpreted in several ways.

The applique design  was protected by copyright, and provided important protection...

Back to Newsletter No. 4



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