August 3, 2019
Costume-maker Rasta Impasta (seriously; that’s the company’s name) created a zany full-body banana costume. Apparently, Kangaroo Manufacturing liked the concept so much they created a costume that looked an awful lot like the original (see the original and the copies below).
The folks at Rasta Impasta weren’t very happy with that, and sued Kangaroo Manufacturing for copyright infringement. Kangaroo Manufacturing didn’t deny that the costumes were similar, but argued that a banana costume could not be copyrighted. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals found otherwise.
“That sculpted banana, once split from the costume,” the court wrote, “is not intrinsically utilitarian and does not merely replicate the costume, so it may be copyrighted.” Moreover, copyrighting the banana costume would not monopolize the underlying idea “because there are many other ways to make a costume resemble a banana.” In sum, the court concluded, the banana “is not a crumpled pile of fabric; it is a recognizable rendering of a banana.”