Many of you may have read about the dispute between Kate Spain and our publisher C&T. Kate has posted her version of the story and C&T has posted its thoughts. Here’s the Readers’ Digest version based on what each party has written in their public statements: Kate Spain took legal action against Emily Cier, the author of the Scrap Republic because Emily featured a quilt made with fabric designed by Kate given to her for the book by Moda. C&T, as the publisher of the book, became involved in defense of Emily. Kate also took issue that a photo of the quilt from the book, was made into a tote bag and sold by C&T. Kate Spain claims that there was never a lawsuit and that she didn’t sue anyone. C&T asserts that “Ms. Spain was asking us to destroy all copies of the book and tote bag, pay damages, pay attorney fees, or face a copyright infringement lawsuit” and that the dispute lasted for months because there was a quilt in a book made with fabrics she designed and a tote bag made from a photo from that book.
Here’s our perspective.
When we walk through Quilt Market and flip through books we notice that some people have decided to knock off iconic quilts of ours, especially those published in Modern Quilt Workshop (2005) or the collection of commission quilts on our website. It is disheartening, discouraging and frustrating. Last year in Houston I intentionally walked a long route to our booth each day so I wouldn’t have to see one of our quilts knocked of in the booth of a major fabric manufacturer. Seriously, it stinks. In one instance when it was particularly flagrant we emailed the designer (who had emailed us a year earlier requesting one of our catalogs) and asked her not to sell our pattern. She ignored us and sold it anyway.
In one instance a major manufacturer began selling a finished quilt that appeared to be identical to one of ours. There was no doubt that it was ours. We did not call lawyers. We did not raise our voices. We made a phone call and talked it through like civilized people. As it turned out the manufacturer had unknowingly bought the design from someone in India who admitted to taking it straight from Modern Quilt Workshop. There was no intent to harm us. It was a mistake. The manufacturer was reasonable and so were we. The entire episode was resolved in one phone call, a few emails and a written settlement. Could we have gotten more money out of them if we had involved lawyers? Absolutely. Is that who we want to be as human beings? Absolutely not. The manufacturer offered to destroy the remaining inventory of the quilts, which sounded ridiculously wasteful to us so we told them not to. Had the manufacturer not admitted wrongdoing we would have called lawyers but they would have been given the directive from us to be reasonable, fair and quick to resolve the issue. Had they not been so, we would have fired them and found other lawyers that represent our values.
I would also add that if any of you want to use any fabric that Bill and I have designed in your books, we would be delighted and honored.