In many cases, the old adage still rings true: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." However, in legal circles, it can generate some serious problems. A modest but slowly growing number of court cases have been exploring a new area where too much imitation is neither flattering nor legal. In a recent case involving the Web sites of competing companies in the construction industry, a federal court found that copying the Web site's "stylistic choices," including color, fonts, orientation, and arrangement, could be a violation of the company's "trade dress" rights under federal trademark law. In general, no single element can constitute a protectable trade dress, but a combination of elements that when viewed as a whole would be protectable as trade dress. So imitation may be flattering, but if it amounts to copying and causes confusion, it may not be legal.
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