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.