Successful businesses seek to innovate their product line and provide their customers with options. This is especially true in the world of online sales, where competitiveness demands product diversity. Aided by plaintiff-friendly intellectual property laws, claims of infringement are unfortunately commonplace. This was the challenge presented by the case of Jacpa Ceramic Craftsmen and IAC International.
Jacpa alleged violations of its registered copyrights in the design of ceramic “ash catchers” against IAC International. Attorneys Deborah Eckland and Chris Bentley defended IAC and its President Umesh Mangalick, an online wholesaler of related tobacco products. Mr. Mangalick discovered these designs while on a business trip to China, purchased them direct from the manufacturer, and put them up for sale on his website without knowledge of the prior copyrights. Although IAC received less than $5,000 in profit from these sales, Jacpa threatened suit for the maximum statutory damages of $600,000. Deborah and Chris obtained a favorable settlement for IAC under undisclosed terms for a fraction of that amount.