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Jury Could Find That Suggested Team Design Faxed to Team Was Copyrighted and Infringed
Description Appeals court upheld the refusal of a trial court to overturn a jury verdict in favor of a fan of the Baltimore Ravens who faxed the team a suggested logo that he copyrighted later, which turned out to be "strikingly similar" to the logo soon adopted by the team.
Topic Intellectual Property
Key Words Copyright; Infringement
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Bouchat is an amateur artist who works as a security guard. When he heard that Baltimore was to obtain a football team, the Ravens, he designed a possible logo for the team and faxed his design to the team. Soon after, the Ravens unveiled their logo, a raven holding a shield, which Bouchat believed was his design. He contacted a lawyer, who obtained copyright registration for Bouchat's design and then sued the Ravens for infringement. The jury found that the shield design was Bouchat's. The judge refused to overturn the verdict, but certified four questions for appeal.
Decision Affirmed. The answers to the questions are: 1) The evidence is sufficient to establish that the infringers had access to the copyrighted work. The jury found that the design had been faxed to the team's offices. 2) The striking similarity of the copyrighted work and the allegedly infringing work may give rise to an inference of access to the copyrighted work, where the works are so similar as to create a high probability of copying and negate the reasonable possibility of independent creation. 3) Bouchat's design was entitled to copyright protection because it was sufficiently original. 4) The fact that the judge encouraged the jury to persist in their effort to reach a verdict did not amount to coercion.
Citation Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens, Inc., - F.3d - (2001 WL 40220, 4th Cir., 2001)

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