Tipsy Elves LLC v. Target Corporation et al

02-26-2017 – No reporting yet, but Tipsy Elves allege that Target has infringed on their “high quality Ugly Sweaters.” That’s a fun sentence to write.

Plaintiff has established itself as the source of high quality Ugly Christmas Sweaters and has further built its previously seasonal business into a yearround novelty apparel company.

Why, Target, why?two_person_christmas_sweater_3

 

Case 3:17-cv-00385-DMS-RBB   Document 1   Filed 02/24/17   PageID.1   Page 1 of 12

 

1    Joseph C. Andras (State Bar # 138181) andras@myersandras.com

2

MYERS ANDRAS LLP

3 19900 MacArthur Blvd., Suite 1150 Irvine, CA  92612

4

Phn: (949) 223-9600

5       Fax: (949) 223-9610

 

6

Tawnya R. Wojciechowski (State Bar #180063)

7 tawnya@trwlawgroup.com TRW LAW GROUP

8

19900 MacArthur Boulevard, Suite 1150

9 Irvine, California  92612-8433 Phn:  (949) 701-4747

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Fax:  (949) 701-4712

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Attorney for Plaintiff

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TIPSY ELVES LLC

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  • UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
  • SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

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17 TIPSY ELVES LLC, a California limited  Case No.:   ’17CV385 DMS RBB liability company,    

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Plaintiff,                 COMPLAINT FOR COPYRIGHT

19 INFRINGEMENT, FOR VICARIOUS

  1. AND/OR CONTRIBUTORY

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COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, TARGET CORPORATION, a Minnesota

  • AND FOR CONSTRUCTIVE TRUST

corporation; and DOES 1 through 10,

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Case 3:17-cv-00385-DMS-RBB   Document 1   Filed 02/24/17   PageID.2   Page 2 of 12

 

Plaintiff TIPSY ELVES LLC, by and through its attorneys, alleges as follows:

 

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

  1. This is an action for copyright infringement arising under the Copyright Act of 1976, Title 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 et seq.
  2. This Court has jurisdiction of this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 1338(a) and (b), and under its supplemental jurisdiction.
  3. Venue is proper in this judicial district under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391 and 1400(a).

 

THE PARTIES

  1. Plaintiff TIPSY ELVES LLC (hereinafter “Plaintiff”) is a California limited liability company with its principal place of business at 1041 Market Street, #306, San Diego, California 92101.
  2. Plaintiff is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that TARGET CORPORATION is a Minnesota corporation that (hereinafter “TARGET”), has a principal place of business in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and conducts business in and with the state of California.
  3. Plaintiff is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that some of Defendants DOES 1 through 5, inclusive, are manufacturers and/or vendors of garments to Defendants, and have manufactured and/or supplied, and/or are manufacturing and/or supplying, garments that are unlawful copies of the SUBJECT WORK (as hereinafter defined) without Plaintiff’s knowledge or consent. The true names, whether corporate, individual or otherwise, of Defendants DOES 1 through 5, inclusive, are presently unknown to Plaintiff, which therefore sues said Defendants by such fictitious names, and will seek leave to amend this Complaint to show their true names and capacities when their true names have been ascertained.

Case 3:17-cv-00385-DMS-RBB   Document 1   Filed 02/24/17   PageID.3   Page 3 of 12

 

  1. Plaintiff is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that Defendants

DOES 6 through 10, inclusive, are other parties not yet identified who have infringed Plaintiff’s copyright(s), have contributed to the infringement of Plaintiff’s copyright(s), and/or have engaged in one or more of the wrong practices alleged herein.  The true names, whether corporate, individual or otherwise, of Defendants DOES 6 through 10, inclusive, are presently unknown to Plaintiff, which therefore sues said Defendants by such fictitious names, and will seek leave to amend this Complaint to show their true names and capacities when their true names have been ascertained.

  1. Plaintiff is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that at all times relevant hereto each of the Defendants was the agent, affiliate, officer, director, manager, principal, alter-ego, and/or employee of the remaining Defendants and was at all times acting with the scope of such agency, affiliation, alter-ego relationship and/or employment; and actively participated in or subsequently ratified and adopted, or both, each and all of the acts or conduct alleged, with full knowledge of all the facts and circumstances, including, but not limited to, full knowledge of each and every violation of Plaintiff’s rights and the damages to Plaintiff proximately caused thereby. TARGET, and DOES 1 through 10 shall sometimes be referred to herein collectively as “Defendants.”

 

 

BACKGROUND FACTS

  1. Plaintiff, among other things, designs, manufactures, and sells apparel and related accessories. Plaintiff has established itself as the source of high quality Ugly Christmas Sweaters and has further built its previously seasonal business into a yearround novelty apparel company.
  2. Plaintiff is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that TARGET’s business is the retail sales of consumer products, including but not limited to clothing and accessories via its stores worldwide, its website and other third party websites. On

Case 3:17-cv-00385-DMS-RBB   Document 1   Filed 02/24/17   PageID.4   Page 4 of 12

 

information and belief, TARGET also retails clothing products directly to the public over the internet throughout the United States, including substantial sales in and to the State of California.

  1. Prior to November 15, 2015, Plaintiff created an original work of authorship known as the “Naughty and Nice” two-person sweater. (hereinafter referred to as the “SUBJECT WORK”).
  2. The SUBJECT WORK contains material wholly original with Plaintiff that is copyrightable subject matter under the laws of the United States.
  3. On or about November 15, 2015, Plaintiff published the SUBJECT WORK,

i.e. its “Naughty and Nice” two-person sweater.   This sweater was a popular part of Plaintiff’s “Christmas Collection” for the years 2015 and 2016.  A true and correct photograph of Plaintiff’s “Naughty and Nice” two-person sweater, the SUBJECT WORK, is attached hereto as Exhibit 1.

  1. In December, 2013, Plaintiff was featured on ABC’s popular

television series Shark Tank, along with several of its “ugly” sweater designs.  Plaintiff and its sweaters have subsequently received significant media attention.  Plaintiff’s

“Naughty and Nice” two-person sweater was often featured by the media.  For example,

Plaintiff’s “Naughty and Nice” two-person sweater appeared in: (a) an article in The

Huffington Post entitled “Weird Christmas Gifts 2015” featuring Plaintiff’s “Nice and Naughty Two -Person Sweater”; (b) an article in E News entitled “Hollywood’s Must-

Have Ugly Holiday Sweater Revealed: Why Celebrities Can’t Get Enough of Tipsy Elves”; and (c) an article in Mic entitled “2016: Where to buy the best sweaters.”  True and correct copies of excerpts from these articles which includes photographs of Plaintiff’s Naughty and Nice sweater are attached hereto as Exhibit 2.

  1. Plaintiff is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that since at least as early as December, 2016, Defendants have been reproducing, distributing, promoting and offering for sale illegal and unauthorized copies of the SUBJECT WORK.

Case 3:17-cv-00385-DMS-RBB   Document 1   Filed 02/24/17   PageID.5   Page 5 of 12

 

  1. Plaintiff is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that since at least as early as December, 2016, on its website and in its retail stores, TARGET has been selling a sweater that is an unauthorized copy of the SUBJECT WORK (the

“ACCUSED COPY”).  A true and correct copy of a website photograph showing the ACCUSED COPY reproduced on a website and on a clothing item depicted therein is attached hereto as Exhibit 3.

  1. Plaintiff is informed and believes that the consuming public is purchasing the ACCUSED COPY from TARGET believing it to be Plaintiff’s “Naughty and Nice” two-person sweater, the SUBJECT WORK. Exhibit 4 is a true and correct copy of an Instagram photo featuring the SUBJECT WORK, followed by a user comment which says, “I bought this same exact sweater at target for half the price.”
  2. Plaintiff requested that TARGET stop selling the ACCUSED COPY, and remove the inventory of the ACCUSED COPY from its stores, both physical and online.
  3. On or about December 2, 2016, Plaintiff applied to the United States

Copyright Office for a Certificate of Registration for its copyright in the SUBJECT WORK.  A true and correct copy of Plaintiff’s application for copyright registration is attached hereto as Exhibit 5.

 

 

FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF (For Copyright Infringement – Against All Defendants)

  1. Plaintiff repeats, re-alleges, and incorporates by reference as though fully set forth herein, the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 19, inclusive, of this Complaint.
  2. At all times relevant hereto, Plaintiff has been and still is the holder of the exclusive rights under the Copyright Act of 1976 (17 USC §§ 101 et seq. (“Copyright

Act”), and all amendments thereto) to reproduce, distribute, or license the reproduction

Case 3:17-cv-00385-DMS-RBB   Document 1   Filed 02/24/17   PageID.6   Page 6 of 12

 

and distribution of the SUBJECT WORK shown in Exhibit 1 (sometimes hereinafter “Copyrights” or “Plaintiff’s Copyrights”).

  1. The SUBJECT WORK is an original work created by Plaintiff, copyrightable under the Copyright Act. An application for registration of Plaintiff’s

Copyrights in the SUBJECT WORK has been duly filed in the United States Copyright Office; all applicable formalities and notice requirements under the Copyright Act have been duly complied with; and Plaintiff has thereby secured and now owns the exclusive right and privilege to enforce its rights in such Copyright.

  1. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereupon alleges that Defendants acquired possession of the SUBJECT WORK to which Plaintiff is the owner of exclusive rights represented by the Copyrights, and have reproduced copies without Plaintiff’s authorization for sale, license, and/or use in the United States and elsewhere.
  2. Defendants have sold unauthorized copies of the copyrighted SUBJECT WORK to which Plaintiff owns the exclusive rights under the Copyrights.
  3. Defendants have infringed Plaintiff’s exclusive rights in the SUBJECT WORK by copying, reproducing, and displaying the SUBJECT WORK and/or by distributing, advertising, selling and/or offering for sale or license the unlawfully reproduced SUBJECT WORK.
  4. Plaintiff has never authorized Defendants, by license or otherwise, to copy or reproduce the SUBJECT WORK by incorporating it into apparel or on websites.
  5. Each infringing sale of the ACCUSED COPY, as well as the threat of continuing the same, constitutes a separate claim against Defendants under the Copyright Act. Plaintiff has sustained, and will continue to sustain, substantial damage to the value of the SUBJECT WORK in that the previously described activities of Defendants have directly diminished and will continue to diminish the revenue which Plaintiff would otherwise receive.
  6. Defendants have realized unlawful and unjust profits from the unauthorized and illegal reproduction and use of the SUBJECT WORK. As such, Plaintiff is entitled

Case 3:17-cv-00385-DMS-RBB   Document 1   Filed 02/24/17   PageID.7   Page 7 of 12

 

to disgorgement of Defendant’s profits directly and indirectly attributable to Defendant’s infringement of the SUBJECT WORK in an amount to be established at trial.

  1. Defendants have continued to infringe said Copyrights in the SUBJECT

WORK, and unless temporarily, preliminarily and permanently enjoined by Order of this Court, will continue to infringe said Copyrights, all to Plaintiff’s irreparable injury.  As a result of Defendants’ acts of infringement, Plaintiff is without an adequate remedy at law in that damages are difficult to ascertain.

  1. Defendants have committed all of the aforesaid acts of infringement deliberately, willfully, intentionally, maliciously and oppressively, without regard to Plaintiff’s proprietary rights.
  2. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereupon alleges that Defendants, and each of them, have acted with knowledge and/or reckless disregard of Plaintiff’s rights such their acts of copyright infringement as alleged above were, and continue to be, willful, intentional and malicious, subjecting Defendants, and each of them, to liability therefore. Further, Defendants, and each of them, willfully and intentionally misappropriated, palmed-off and/or infringed Plaintiff’s SUBJECT WORK which renders Defendants, and each of them, liable for damages as described herein.

 

SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF (For Vicarious and/or Contributory Copyright Infringement – Against All Defendants)

 

  1. Plaintiff repeats, re-alleges, and incorporates by reference as though fully set forth herein, the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 31, inclusive, of this Complaint.
  2. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that Defendants, and each of them, knowingly induced, participated in, aided and abetted, and resultantly

Case 3:17-cv-00385-DMS-RBB   Document 1   Filed 02/24/17   PageID.8   Page 8 of 12

 

profited from the illegal reproduction, and/or creation of derivative works based on the Subject Photographs as alleged herein.

  1. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that Defendants, and each of them, are vicariously liable for the infringement alleged herein because they had the right and ability to supervise the infringing conduct and because they had a direct financial interest in the infringing conduct.
  2. By reason of the Defendants’, and each of their, acts of contributory and/or vicarious infringement as alleged above, Plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer substantial damages to its business in an amount to be established at trial.
  3. By reason of the Defendants’, and each of their, acts of contributory and/or vicarious infringement as alleged above, Plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer general and special damages to its business in an amount to be established at trial.
  4. Due to Defendants’ acts of contributory and/or vicarious copyright infringement, Defendants, and each of them, have obtained direct and indirect profits they would otherwise not have realized but for their infringement of the Subject

Photographs.  As such, Plaintiff is entitled to disgorgement of Defendants’ profits directly and indirectly attributable to Defendants’ infringement of the SUBJECT COPYRIGHT in an amount to be established at trial.

  1. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereupon alleges that Defendants, and each of them, have continued to manufacture and/or sell articles bearing the ACCUSED COPY with knowledge that such acts violate Plaintiff’s intellectual property rights. Therefore, Defendants’ acts of copyright infringement as alleged above were, and continue to be, willful, intentional and malicious, subjecting Defendants, and each of them, to liability therefore.  Further, Defendants, and each of them, willfully and intentionally misappropriated, palmed-off and/or infringed Plaintiff’s SUBJECT WORK which renders Defendants, and each of them, liable for damages as described herein.

 

 

Case 3:17-cv-00385-DMS-RBB   Document 1   Filed 02/24/17   PageID.9   Page 9 of 12

 

THIRD CLAIM FOR RELIEF (For Constructive Trust)

 

  1. Plaintiff repeats, re-alleges, and incorporates by reference as though fully set forth herein, the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 38, inclusive, of this Complaint.

 

  1. Plaintiff is entitled to the profits that each Defendant has derived from the infringement of Plaintiff’s rights pursuant to the statutory laws of United States, and damages under the statutes comprising the copyright laws of the United States.

 

  1. Upon information and belief, Plaintiff alleges that each Defendant owns and possesses tangible real and personal property and assets including, but not limited to, real estate, bank savings and other financial accounts, consisting of profits from or obtained by Defendants’ illegal and tortious acts, as alleged herein.

 

  1. Upon information and belief, Plaintiff alleges that each Defendant retains possession of the Artwork, which Plaintiff alleges are used by each Defendant in the continuing infringing activities described hereinabove, and Plaintiff requests that the court impose a constructive trust over these profits for the benefit of Plaintiff.

 

  1. Defendant holds the above-mentioned tangible real and personal property and assets as constructive trustees for the benefit of Plaintiff, in an amount to be proven at trial.
  2. Plaintiff has no adequate remedy at law.

          

Case 3:17-cv-00385-DMS-RBB   Document 1   Filed 02/24/17   PageID.10   Page 10 of 12

 

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

 

Wherefore, Plaintiff requests that this Court:

  1. Enter judgment that each Defendant has infringed upon Plaintiff’s Copyrights in its SUBJECT WORK.
  2. Enter judgment that each Defendant’s use, advertising, offering to sell, sale, or display of the ACCUSED COPY on its website and incorporated in apparel constitutes an infringement of Plaintiff’s Copyrights.
  3. For an order enjoining each Defendant, and each Defendant’s officers, agents, employees, and those acting in concert or conspiracy with them, permanently from:
    1. infringing or contributing to or participating in the infringement by

others of any of the Copyrights or acting in concert with, aiding and abetting others to infringe any of said Copyrights in any way;

  1. copying, duplicating, selling, renting, marketing, leasing, distributing,

offering for sale over the internet, or otherwise disposing of any ACCUSED COPY to which Plaintiff is the owner of exclusive rights under its Copyrights;

  1. That the Defendant be required to modify its website to completely remove any product bearing the ACCUSED COPY;
  2. That each Defendant be permanently enjoined from duplicating, reproducing, copying, advertising, selling, offering for sale over the internet, or in any other manner using unauthorized copies of the SUBJECT WORK;
  3. That Plaintiff be awarded all losses of Plaintiff, the exact sum to be proven at the time of trial, as available under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq.;
  4. That Plaintiff be awarded all profits of Defendants;
  5. That Plaintiff recover its attorney’s fees and costs of suit incurred herein as available under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq.; and

 

Case 3:17-cv-00385-DMS-RBB   Document 1   Filed 02/24/17   PageID.11   Page 11 of 12

 

1       9.        That Plaintiff have such other and further relief as this Court deems just and 2          proper.

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4      Dated:  February 24, 2017           s/ Joseph C. Andras

Joseph C. Andras (State Bar # 138181)

5

andras@myersandras.com

6                                    MYERS ANDRAS LLP

19900 MacArthur Blvd., Suite 1150

7

Irvine, CA  92612

8                                                                        Phn: (949) 223-9600

Fax: (949) 223-9610

9

 

10            Tawnya R. Wojciechowski (State Bar #180063)

tawnya@trwlawgroup.com

11

TRW LAW GROUP

12      19900 MacArthur Boulevard, Suite 1150

Irvine, California  92612-8433

13

Phn:  (949) 701-4747

14                                       Fax:  (949) 701-4712

 

15

Attorney for Plaintiff

16                                        TIPSY ELVES LLC

 

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Case 3:17-cv-00385-DMS-RBB   Document 1   Filed 02/24/17   PageID.12   Page 12 of 12

 

  • DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
  • Plaintiff hereby demands trial by jury of all issues triable by jury.

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4      Dated:  February 24, 2017           s/ Joseph C. Andras

Joseph C. Andras (State Bar # 138181)

5

andras@myersandras.com

6                                    MYERS ANDRAS LLP

19900 MacArthur Blvd., Suite 1150

7

Irvine, CA  92612

8                                                                        Phn: (949) 223-9600

Fax: (949) 223-9610

9

 

10            Tawnya R. Wojciechowski (State Bar #180063)

tawnya@trwlawgroup.com

11

TRW LAW GROUP

12      19900 MacArthur Boulevard, Suite 1150

Irvine, California  92612-8433

13

Phn:  (949) 701-4747

14                                       Fax:  (949) 701-4712

 

15

Attorney for Plaintiff

16                                        TIPSY ELVES LLC

 

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