Polka Dots and Originality in Copyright

Miss America of 1926 is credited with starting the polka dot craze. Her bathing suit had random sized circles.  Two years later, when Minnie Mouse was introduced in Steamboat Willie, her now iconic red dress with white polka dots was what we have come to think of polka dots:  standard, neat rows of circles against a solid background.

 

When does polka dot fabric gain copyright protection?  When the pattern is creative enough.  What does that mean?  This section explores the creativity as one requirement of obtaining copyright.  Luckily for us, courts have actually weighed in on the copyrightability of polka dots.  

 

But questions remain:  How much should Damien Hirst control polka dots after his Dot paintings, 1986-2011 (see unauthorized video to the right)?  

 

In 2017, Modern Quilt Studio came out with their own line of polka dots, called "Dot Crazy."  The section ends will a look at their new collection, and a discussion of copyrightability of these glorious fabrics.  

 

Just Wanna Quilt: An Immersive Research Project of Copyright

Podcast and Research Lab

Tulane University Law School

New Orleans, LA 70118

 

JWQ Shop and Long Army

Quilting Army Krewe, LLC

New Orleans, LA 70125

Quilting Army Krewe, LLC

Owner, Elizabeth Townsend Gard

Editor-in-Chief, Just Wanna Series, Ricardo Gonzalez

Inventory Quilt Project, Willow Olson

Long Army, Joel Sellers

Project Director, Gigi Baay