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Kate Spain Controvery

Last Updated April 2, 2012

There has been a flurry of activity in the Blogosphere concerning a confrontation between Carolina Patchworks, CT Publishing and some designer named Kate Spain. We have gathered what we could from the various postings and we will comment on them here. We do not attempt to claim that we know all of the facts or all of the issues. It appears that all parties are reluctant to disclose everything for one reason or another. We are commenting based upon the information they posted on their respective blogs.

This page has been posted to dispel the rumors that a quilter, Emily Cier, was sued for using licensed fabric in her quilt. That is not true. Legally, she was never in danger of losing a lawsuit over the use of fabric designed and sold by Kate Spain. It was her publisher who committed the infringement, not her.

We incorporate two postings by Carolina Patchworks, one posting by CT Publishing and two postings by Kate Spain. Links to the various blogs are listed at the bottom of this page for those who want to read them in full. Kate Spain has made statements that are unbelievable and contradictory. We address some of them here.


On November 17, 2011, Emily of Carolina Patchworks posted some comments about her situation with Kate Spain and Spain's lawyers. The week before, Emily had received a threatening letter from Spain's lawyers. They appeared to use the usual over-blown claims of $150,000 or more, destruction of all copies of her book and legal fees over her use of some fabrics sold by Kate Spain. Emily did not give many details.

On March 22, 2012, Emily added an update on the confrontation. She identified the designer as Kate Spain because it seems that Kate Spain could not resist putting detailed information in her blog. Emily took issue with some of the statements made by Kate Spain and we believe she is correct in what she disputes.

March 26, 2012, Todd Hensley, who identifies himself as the CEO of CT Publishing, admitted that CT Publishing did err:

Just to clarify, we did not scan Ms. Spain's fabrics and print them on the totes, we photographed the quilt (which was designed by Emily Cier), cropped it to make it visually pleasing, and printed that image on the tote.

CT Publishing did infringe by copying the image and applying it to the tote bag. And, from his statement, it seems that CT Publishing marketed the book, Scrap Republic, along with the tote bags, the tote bags with the infringing design imprinted. This compounded the infringement. The irony is that if CT Publishing had used Kate Spain's fabric on the tote bags instead of reproducing the design, the threatened lawsuit would have failed. More on this below. Notified of their infringement, CT Publishing contacted Kate Spain to try to resolve the error. She did not respond even though CT Publishing says it made several attempts to contact her. Why didn't she respond?

Todd Hensley (CT Publishing):

In the meantime, we did not hear back from Ms. Spain until we received a cease and desist letter from the attorneys representing Ms. Spain. The letter stated that Emily Cier and C&T had violated the rights of Ms. Spain by reproducing her fabric designs in our book, Scrap Republic, and on our eco-tote bag. This was the first time we learned that Ms. Spain was asking us to destroy all copies of the book and tote bag, pay damages, pay attorney fees, or face a copyright infringement lawsuit.

We refer to this as mouse hunting with an elephant gun. Typical corporate lawyer "scare the pants off of them" tactic. Instead of a simple telephone call, the lawyers get paid far more big bucks to put together the cease and desist letter than they get by making a quick telephone call. The telephone call will happen but the C&D letter is just gravy.

Todd Hensley (CT Publishing):

We responded to her attorneys with the facts as stated above and let them know that we agreed that we had made a mistake with regard to the tote bag and provided the figures they requested. With regard to the book, we were in complete disagreement and stated that we would not comply with their cease and desist. This was not acceptable to their side and they continued to force the issue with the book. At this time, we engaged our attorneys to respond concerning the book and to work out a settlement agreement-which took months to complete.

Mo' money, mo' money, mo' money for the lawyers. Why settle quickly when "months" pad the billing? Hensley goes on to ponder who owns the copyright on an original quilt design. He shows the subject is beyond his grasp. He should read our pages on PATTERNS , LICENSED FABRICS and QUILTING which go into detail as to why designers lie to you.


Kate Spain (March 22, 2012):

The most important thing to know is that there is no lawsuit, there never was a lawsuit, and I did not sue anyone.

Emily's rebuttal:

her lawyers formally and repeatedly threatened a lawsuit if several specific conditions were not immediately met, including payment of large sums of money and other conditions.

It certainly sounds like Kate Spain is trying to minimize what happened. She may not have actually sued Emil but she certainly turned her bottom-feeding corporate lawyers loose to attack. Perhaps Kate Spain does not appreciate the significance of what the threats of litigation and massive monetary penalties does to most people? They get anxious, they cannot sleep, they do not eat, and sleep is almost impossible. Kate Spain dismisses it because she did not sue anyone. Right.


Kate Spain (March 28, 2012):

My lawyer explained that to legally address the copyright infringement with the printed tote bags being sold, we had to address the book in question as well because the image that was used on the tote bag was taken from a close-up photograph of my copyrighted work - graphic designs, clearly recognizable and not transformed - and was published and distributed for sale without permission from me, the copyright owner.

What? There is NO mention anywhere that an image of the infringing tote bag is included in the book. NO mention. What dumb-ass lawyer would include the book in an action for infringement that only involved the reproduction of a design that appears ONLY on the tote bag? Clue. A lawyer that wants to pad his billing. The images in the book were not infringing. There was absolutely no reason to go after the book, except as stated above, to drag settlement out for months and thousands of dollars in legal fees for Spain's lawyers.

Kate Spain (March 28, 2012):

Depending on how you would sell the item (think factory manufacturing and mass-market distribution), it might also require a licensing agreement.

We are not sure where she is going with this statement. But if she is implying there are volume restrictions on what you can make from lawfully acquired licensed fabrics then she is dead wrong.

Links:

http://carolinapatchworks.com/blog/2011/11/17/an-interesting-read/
http://carolinapatchworks.com/blog/2012/03/22/more-sides-to-the-story/
http://www.ctpubblog.com/2012/03/26/a-few-thoughts-about-copyright-and-quilts/
http://katespaindesigns.blogspot.mx/2012/03/moving-forward.html
http://katespaindesigns.blogspot.mx/2012_03_01_archive.html
In closing, we want to say that in the "Q&A" part of Kate Spain's blog, Moving Forward, we find that she is unlike most designers in that she does not attempt to claim she has the right to restrict ones use of her fabrics without her permission. We detail the "Lies Told By Pattern Designers" in PATTERNS , and we must admit that Kate Spain does not appear to promote ANY of the common lies designers try to use to control the use of their products. Three thumbs up for that.

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