I’ll admit it: as Etsy’s in-house attorney, I love reading legal disputes and thinking about what important issues each side should stress. I especially like to analyze pending copyright, trademark, and patent cases. I daydream about what points I would argue if I were the lawyer for each side and then I put on my imaginary judge’s robe and make a decision.
Well, here’s your chance. If you were the judge, what would you decide on this real-life on-going legal battle?
Most of my cooking endeavors end in a laugh (and take-out). There was the time I thought the box of chocolate chip muffin mix was brownie mix and I created a giant, puffy “bruffin,” and the time I added an entire box of pasta to my soup, making it into something not at all soupy. I need some serious kitchen supervision, and more than a few paragraphs of instructions, to prepare anything edible. For those who can cook, in the case of the turkey cooking instructions, you be the judge.
According to their website, Greenberg Smoked Turkey, Inc. is an institution that spans four generations. Greenberg has sold turkey, complete with a three paragraph instruction insert, since 1987.
Goode-Cook, Inc. owns several restaurants and also ships products (including smoked turkey). Goode’s website also contains turkey preparation instructions.
A few days before Thanksgiving 2010, Greenberg commenced a lawsuit, asserting that their turkey instructions are “copyrightable subject matter” and Goode’s website contains “unauthorized copies of Greenberg’s copyright.” The instructions are found on the second page of the five page complaint.
In the United States, to succeed in a claim for copyright infringement, a party must show a valid copyright, actual copying (would a reasonable person infer that the work was copied), and improper appropriation.
Copyright protects expression but not the underlying ideas, and sometimes these concepts merge. Goode may argue that instructions contain short phrases and ideas and are not protected by copyright. How many ways can one succinctly communicate the keeping and heating up of a turkey?
Please review the paragraphs at issue and in the case of the turkeys, you be the judge!