(CN) – Invoking the frog-prince fairy tale, the 1st Circuit upheld an injunction barring a former Coquico employee from selling stuffed frogs that infringe on the toy-maker’s design.
Coquico makes a stuffed-animal version of the coqui, a tree frogs indigenous to Puerto Rico.
Judge Selya noted that Coquico “has not yet managed to turn the coqui into an imperial presence,” referring to the Brothers Grimm fairy tale about an ugly frog who morphs into a prince with a kiss. “It has, however, fashioned a popular stuffed-animal rendering of the coqui and, thus, turned the frog into dollars.”
Coquico had copyrighted its stuffed coqui, called “Comun,” when former employee Angel Edgardo Rodriguez-Miranda and Identiko began selling a competing “Encantos” coqui.
Selya said the defendants’ “rifle-shot appeal” took direct aim at the lower court’s conclusion that Coquico would likely succeed on its infringement claim. As a result, the Boston-based federal appeals court revisited the likelihood-of-success factor in upholding the district court’s decision.
The court rejected Rodriguez’s argument that any similarities between his plush toy and Coquico’s frog merely stemmed from his desire to replicate the coqui as it exists in nature.
Selya noted several similar features of both stuffed frogs that don’t exist in nature, including stitching, pattern, color combination, posture and size.
“To cinch the matter,” the judge wrote, “the record is replete with stuffed-animal depictions of coquies that bear little resemblance to Comun.”