NEW ORLEANS — An intellectual-property lawsuit has failed to stop the Mystic Krewe of Nyx from celebrating Mardi Gras by throwing T-shirts during the parade.
According to a report by the Times-Picayune, on Feb. 16, Judge Sidney Cates IV of the Civil District Court for Orleans Parish dismissed a lawsuit seeking to prohibit the the Mystic Krewe of Nyx from throwing the organization's signature T-shirts from its parade float. The lawsuit was filed by a former member of the Krewe, Taetrece Harrison, who alleged that she had an intellectual-property claim to the idea of throwing the T-shirts from the float during the parade.
Harrison alleged that she told the Krewe's captain, Julie Lea, about her idea and Lea stole it. In Harrison's claim, she said when she presented her idea to Lea, she offered Harrison $200 for it. Harrison was unsatisfied with the amount, and the two never reached an agreement. So when Harrison learned that the Krewe was planning to go ahead with throwing the T-shirts, she responded by convincing a judge to issue temporary restraining order to prevent the Krewe from going ahead with their plan.
Harrison said that Lea's offer of money for the idea served as evidence that her plan had value and that she was entitled to some kind of compensation for its use. She also claimed that she experienced “undue stress” from having her idea stolen.
"Generally, for a claim like Harrison's, the fact that someone offered her money does not do anything to add weight to the idea that her intellectual property was violated,” Blair Suire, a partner at Jones Walker in Lafayette, told the Louisiana Record. “For an intellectual-property claim to be successful, you need a patent, trademark or a copyright. And while undue stress can be used to show damages, it is not typically used in intellectual-property law.”
Suire said that for Harrison to have a patent claim, she would have had to demonstrate that she had invented a new way of throwing T-shirts from a parade float.
“But for that to work, she would have to convince a patent agent that she had both an original idea and one that it was not already obvious,” Suire said. "In addition, to file a successful lawsuit in 2017, she would have had to have filed a patent application by 2013 to claim ownership”
Similarly, for Harrison to have a filed a claim for a trademark violation, Harrison would have had to demonstrate that the Mystic Krewe of Nyx had somehow violated her own brand identity in a way that would have caused the general public to confuse the Krewe's with her own, Suire explained.
“But again, there is no reason to think a consumer would have confused the design for her own,” she added.
For the final category of copyright infringement, Harrison would have to have shown that Lea violated a copyright claim that Harrison had already filed, Suire said.