CHICAGO (4/21/14)--The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week squashed a copyright infringement suit filed by a woman who wears a banana suit to deliver telegrams and perform at social functions. Among the defendants in the case were the Credit Union National Association and several credit unions.
|This photo of "Banana Lady" Catherine Conrad was included in 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner opinion. The court tossed out a copyright infringement suit filed by a Conrad against CUNA and several credit unions. (7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals photo)|
In an opinion dripping with sarcasm that also included an image of the plaintiff in her banana suit and a link to her performing on YouTube, Judge Richard Posner suggested that a Wisconsin federal court should consider blocking Catherine Conrad from filing additional lawsuits until she fully pays her "litigation debts." Posner also said Conrad abused "the legal process by incessant filing of frivolous lawsuits" (ABA Journal April 15).
Conrad claimed her copyright was violated by defendants who hired her to deliver "a singing telegram" dressed as a banana at a trade association event. According to Conrad, the defendants failed to inform audience members until after her performance that they could not take pictures for anything other than personal use. Conrad has copyrights on photos and sculptures of herself in a banana costume, which the court assumed to be valid, and she registered a copyright on her banana costume.
But the 7th Circuit Court's three-judge panel agreed with a federal judge in Wisconsin that Conrad's suit had no merit.
"She has also registered a copyright on the costume itself, but there is doubt (not necessary for us to resolve) about the validity of that copyright because banana costumes quite similar to hers are, we are surprised to discover, a common consumer product," Posner wrote.
Posner also remarked on Conrad's "abuse of the legal process" noting the suit was at least the eighth case Conrad had filed in federal court since 2009, and she has filed at least nine cases in state court just since 2011. She has failed to pay legal fees and licensing fees in several of the cases.
To read Posner's opinion, use the link.