Nebraska-based trinket maker Cody Foster wholesales adorable items to boutiques, gift shops, and even bigger retailers like Anthropologie. Their catalog is only visible to their customers. One of those customers noticed a curious resemblance between items in the Cody Foster catalog and items made and sold by prominent (but not too prominent) artists and Etsy sellers.
One problem with this whole controversy is the nature of folk art–can anyone really own the design of a handmade-style doll when the basic form was originally traced by candlelight on scrap fabrics in 1834?
In any case, Cody Foster really wants the person behind the “IP Isn’t Free” Flickr account to be quiet already. The company sent a cease and desist letter to the anonymous photo-poster.
The company threatened the whistleblower with Very Bad Things if they don’t stop posting the company’s catalog photos on the Internet. In the letter, the company’s lawyer threatens to seek “statutory damages, actual damages as well as injunctive relief,” going after the poster for the damage to the company’s brand.
Is that even grounded in reality? Not really. The Flickr user’s attorney told Consumerist alumnus John Brownlee of Fast.Co Design that the claim wouldn’t hold up in court and the design comparisons should be considered “fair use.” The company can’t prove that the whistleblower with access to the company’s catalog knew that the designs weren’t pirated.
Is Gift Wholesaler Cody Foster & Co. Responsible For Wholesale Ripoffs Of Indie Crafters?
Cody Foster & Co. Speaks Up, Insists They Didn’t Steal Designs On Purpose
Anthropologie, Fab.com Publicly Drop Cody Foster & Co. As Supplier