Ty v. GMA Accessories, Inc.
132 F.3d 1167 (7th Cir. 1997)

  • Ty made small stuffed animals. They made a stuffed pig. GMA made a similar stuffed pig. Ty sued for copyright infringement.
    • GMA argued that they came up with their pig design by themselves (aka independent creation).
  • The Trial Court found for Ty. GMA appealed.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.
    • The Appellate Court found that generally, there are two elements to establishing infringement:
      • There must be evidence that the defendant had access to the copyrighted work.
      • There must be evidence that the works are substantially similar.
    • However, the Court looked to Selle v. Gibb (741 F.2d 286 (1984)), and found that if two works are so strikingly similar as to make it highly probable that the later one is a copy of the earlier one, the issue of access need not be addressed since if the later work was a copy its creator must have had access to the original.
    • The Court looked at the Ty pig, the GMA pig, and real live pigs. They found that the GMA pig was strikingly similar to the Ty pig but not to anything in the real world, including real live pigs.
      • The two stuffed pigs weren't very realistic depictions of pigs, so it was hard to imagine that all the features of the GMA pig didn't come from the Ty pig.
      • GMA could not point to any fictional pig in the public domain that resembled their pig.