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Apparel Nonpareil: Court battle was by design
- 6/1/1997

Both the plaintiff and the defendant wear white. And their names - Milady Bridals Inc. and Impression Bridal Inc. - sound demure and refined. But that didn't stop the two companies from slugging it out in a New York courtroom. When the lace settled, plaintiff Milady emerged the victor.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin issued a preliminary injunction in March preventing Impression Bridal from filling orders for five knock-off wedding dresses with lace patterns that are "strikingly similar" to those of Milady, of New York City.

Impression Bridal lawyer Jeff McDaniel of Austin, Texas, praised the judge for refusing Milady's request for a more extensive recall of dresses already delivered to stores.

The defendant's downfall, as it turned out, was the lace designs, in which the plaintiff claims a copyright.

"The cut of clothing - wide shoulders, narrow waist, short, long - is not copyrightable," says Robert C. Faber, lawyer for Milady. But ornamentation on apparel, such as a decoration or lace, is protected.

The defendant "has been going as close to the line as possible" in copying Milady's designs, says Faber, and this time, "We nailed him."