10th Cir. Rules That Michaels Not Liable for ‘Knockoff’ Planner

Written August 13, 2020

The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on August 12, 2020, ruled in favor of Michaels Stores Inc. against claims that it infringed LifePlanner’s registered compilation copyright and unregistered trade dress for its popular personal organizer. Craft Smith, LLC v. EC Design, LLC, 10th Cir., No. 19-4087, 8/11/20.

EC Design LLC, founded by Erin Condren, sells her LifePlanner personal organizer. Craft Smith LLC, seeking to enter the same market, approached EC about collaborating. After their talks broke down, Craft designed a personal organizer to sell at Michaels based on Condren’s design, using the same size, spiral type, pagination, and other characteristics.

EC sued Craft and Michaels for copyright and trade dress infringement, and a Utah federal court ruled for Craft and Michaels on both counts.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed, finding that Craft didn’t infringe because it did not copy any of the planner’s “artwork or text—the two most significant portions of protected expression in the LifePlanner compilation.”