DragonCon Cosplayers Get Cease & Desist from Carpet Company

ATLANTA, GA—We've heard that one or two adult performers (and possibly even a couple of execs) are into cosplay, attending conventions dressed as their favorite comic book, anime, movie or TV characters—so here's a word of warning for the truly creative cosplayer.

But first a little background: DragonCon, which started out as a regional sci-fi/fantasy/gaming convention in the late '80s, has grown into a genuine multi-platform pop-culture event, and now hosts fans of everything from the above-noted genres to film, comic books, music and anything related to them—including a growing cosplay segment, which takes an active part in the parade the convention has sponsored since 2002. And for several years, the convention has been held at Marriott Marquis hotel near the heart of downtown Atlanta—barely enough room to accommodate the 57,000 fans that attended the con this summer.

Also, as most are aware, cosplayers can be real bears about detail. Those who plan to create a costume based on a famous (or even minor) comic book, anime, movie or TV character often study photos and video of the character down to the minutest detail, as it's that attention to detail that judges in costume contests look for in awarding prizes. And while many of the characters that cosplayers try to emulate are covered by some of the toughest copyright protections around, the copyright owners invariably give cosplayers a lot of leeway in what they're allowed to wear, reasoning (correctly) that the costumes are basically free advertising for the characters portrayed.

Sadly, that philosophy apparently doesn't apply to carpet.

Seems that one of the highlights of this year's DragonCon was a pair of cosplayers dressed in what's been described as a "memorably psychedelic" design: the red, yellow and blue geometric pattern of the Marriott Marquis' hallway carpets, which the cosplayers copied and created body suits for themselves with the same design. After all, for game players, what better way to get the drop on your opponents than by disguising yourself as the very carpet they walk on? (Remember the mental hospital scene from Terminator 2: Judgment Day?)

But while Hollywood, Marvel and DC have taken cosplaying in stride, the folks who make the carpets Marriott uses in its hotels were less forgiving, and when a costume company, Volpin Props, was so impressed by the "carpet camo" that they decided to offer similar costumes to convention attendees, the carpet manufacturers, Couristan, Inc., sent the company a "cease and desist" letter, threatening legal action if the costumers offered costumes with Couristan's design.

"Of all the things to get a Cease and Desist over, of ALL the replicas I've made over the years, I've received one from Couristan Inc., designers [of] the Marriott Marquis Atlanta hotel carpet," a Volpin spokesperson wrote. "Spoonflower has pulled the design, as is their right, so sorry everyone who wanted some fabric of their own!"

However, on its Facebook page, the company is requesting that fans refrain from contacting either Couristan or Marriott over the issue.

"Courtisan [sic], the copyright holder for the design of the pattern, is fully within their rights to issue a C&D and I absolutely support that action," s/he wrote. "I wouldn't want anyone recasting my props and they should take similar actions to protect their designs."

So let this be a warning to cosplayers: Be creative... but not too creative!