Artist Sues Amazon for Alleged Infringement of Copyrighted Design

On Wednesday, California-based artist and designer Sara M. Lyons filed a complaint against Inc. and unknown individuals in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the defendants infringed her copyrighted work by selling similar products on Amazon’s website.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff “sells original enamel pins, embroidered patches, and other products all featuring her original designs.” The plaintiff stated that she sells her designs directly to consumers through her website or through authorized third-party retailers. Lyons claimed that one of her “most iconic designs is the original two-dimensional artwork, entitled Whatever Forever (the ‘Original Design’),” which she created in 2013. The original design is shown below:  

The plaintiff's design, from the complaint.
The plaintiff’s design, from the complaint.

Lyons averred that the defendants “created, sold, manufactured, caused to be manufactured, and/or distributed products featuring a design that is substantially similar to the Original Design (the ‘Infringing Design’)” without obtaining consent or permission. The purportedly infringing design is shown below:

The purportedly infringing design from the complaint.
The purportedly infringing design from the complaint.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendants “created the Infringing Design by directly tracing the hand on the right of the Original Design to create the hand on the right of the Infringing Design. Defendants then mirror-imaged the hand to create the hand on the left of the Infringing Design.” Lyons asserted that Amazon sold and distributed T-shirts to consumers with the defendants’ design.

The plaintiff contended that she discovered in June 2019 that Amazon was selling the purportedly infringing product and notified Amazon of her copyright claims in her original design in April 2020. However, while Amazon initially removed this listing in April or May 2020, in January 2021, Amazon allegedly restored the product listing on its website; therefore, Amazon has continued to advertise and sell the allegedly infringing product, according to the plaintiff. Moreover, the plaintiff claimed that Amazon “has continued to flagrantly advertise and sell the Infringing Product to consumers after receiving notice of Ms. Lyons’s copyright claims in the Original Design.”

She noted that the original design has a registered copyright and various copyright management information, such as her “signature, name, logo, website address, social media handle, and copyright notice.” This information is purportedly placed on authorized copies of the original design and product packaging. Thus, the plaintiff claimed that this further shows her connection with the original design. Lyons argued that she has been harmed by the defendants’ infringement of her design.

The causes of action are copyright infringement and distribution of infringing goods with copyright management information removed, allegedly in violation of the Copyright Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The plaintiff seeks an injunction; disgorgement of ill-gotten gains; an award for damages, costs, and fees; and other relief.

Lyons is represented by Kushnirsky Gerber PLLC.