Culp Inc. Fights to Protect Fabric Copyrights

Fabric and mattress ticking maker Culp Inc. said it has reached agreements with unnamed customers and fabric suppliers over copyrighted fabric designs and will be pursuing others who are using unauthorized versions of its designs.

The company said terms of the agreements are confidential.

The designs include, but are not limited to, Culp’s popular faux leather fabrics - Palomino, Wrangler, Stampede, Congo, Gunslinger, Nabuck, Bonanza, Lambskin, Nabook and Buckskin.

In addition, Culp said it is engaged in enforcement proceedings against other fabric suppliers, and in some case, their owners. Parties named in a news release are Global Textile Alliance, Huntington Fabrics and Gum Tree Fabrics. None of the companies could be immediately contacted.

In addition, Culp said it is pursuing agreements with several major customers to ensure that the company will be the exclusive provider of its copyrighted designs for the long term.

“Our goal is to rid the market of unauthorized versions of our fabric designs,” said Rob Culp, chairman. “Culp will do whatever it takes to protect ourselves, our valued customers and retailers from the unlawful violation of our rights. We believe our customers deserve it. We also welcome any involvement from retailers in these efforts.”

Frank Saxton, Culp’s president and ceo, added, “We appreciate our loyal customers who have supported us through these proceedings and have continued to buy Culp’s copyrighted designs. Further, we are open to holding discussions with customers, importers and retailers in order to ensure that only authentic Culp fabrics reach the market.”

Culp began taking action against knockoffs of its fabrics after the U.S. Copyright Office ruled that Palomino, Stampede and Wrangler were all copyright protected retroactive to 2006, the year the designs were designed and produced. The company called that court’s action a landmark decision because it took the products out of the “commodity” classification and gave them a protected status.

At the time, the company said the fabrics were top sellers, with more than 15 million yards in the marketplace and about that much yardage that had been illegally duplicated by other companies.

By Gary Evans, senior editor of HTT sister publication Furniture Today

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