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 2017 Press Releases


      Under A Foot Plant Company Owner of the STEPABLES brand Wins Copyright Infringement Lawsuit


For Immediate Release


STEPABLES Receives Jury Verdict for $300,000 in Statutory Damages and $900,000 in Actual Damages in Federal Copyright Action Against The Perennial Farm


May 12, 2017 – Baltimore, MD

            On Thursday evening, a jury in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland awarded STEPABLES-owner Under A Foot Plant, Co. $900,000 in actual damages for The Perennial Farm’s unauthorized use of STEPABLES’s copyrighted photographs.  The jury also awarded Under A Foot Plant, Co. the maximum available statutory damages of $300,000 for The Perennial Farm’s willful infringement STEPABLES’s brochure and website. The two awards are not cumulative, and Under a Foot Plant Co. may elect one jury award or the other under copyright law.

**UPDATE: May 22nd  2017 Baltimore, MD- Under A Foot Plant Co. elected $900,000 in actual damages for The Perennial Farm’s unauthorized use of STEPABLES’s copyrighted photographs.

            STEPABLES® is Under A Foot Plant, Co.’s award-winning product line of perennial plants for walkways, borders, and lawn replacement, available throughout the U.S. and Canada. Company President Frances White is the creator of the STEPABLES plant line and its many copyrighted images. In the lawsuit, Under A Foot Plant, Co. and Ms. White alleged that The Perennial Farm had used STEPABLES’s copyrighted photographs to market a competing line of products called “Treadwell.”  Ms. White testified at trial that she had discovered her pictures on Treadwell webpages, brochures, and posters in 2011, 2012, and 2014, and these infringements continue.

            Professor Jeffrey Sedlik, a leading expert on visual arts and photography licensing, was called as an expert witness at trial.  Professor Sedlik testified that The Perennial Farm had infringed 23 of Stepables’s photographs a total of 133 times from 2011 to 2017.  He confirmed the infringement using a fingerprint-like “feature point analysis” of the photographs and then researched the fair market value for licensing similar images in similar marketing materials.  Professor Sedlik noted that the use of these photographs in competing marketing materials increased the likely cost of a license drastically, thus increasing the damages sustained by Under A Foot Plant, Co.  The size of the jury award suggests that Professor Sedlik’s testimony was critical in demonstrating Under A Foot Plant, Co.’s damages to the jury.

            “This was a huge win for artists, photographers, and creators,” Ms. White said of the award.  “These photographs were the result of countless hours of time, attention, planning, and preparation.  Today, the jury sent a clear message that the work that goes into marketing and selling high quality plants is valuable and worthwhile.” Ms. White continues, “This also has widespread consequences for the horticulture industry. Anyone creating a catalog, marketing materials, websites, tags, magazines, newsletters etc., will now be on notice that Under a Foot Plant Company will not be deterred in protecting its intellectual property. All levels of our industry should take a hard look at their in-house Intellectual Property policies and either rethink, or implement such policies to ensure they are not caught off guard by lack of knowledge of copyright or trademark law.”



STEPABLES® is an award-winning product line of plants that can be walked on for pathways, borders and lawn replacements.  Ms. White created a substantial photo library for the company which contains photographs of ground covers in the landscape as well as full bloom close-up photos. These photographs have played a vital role in educating the horticulture industry and inspiring consumers to purchase STEPABLE plants since 1999 and can be found at Under A Foot Plant Co. has won numerous national awards for their innovative marketing which includes many of the copyrighted works in this case.  Awards include: SAF Marketer of the Year for 2005, Meister Media’s 2006 Medal of Excellence for Marketing and in 2007 Greenhouse Grower’s Magazine for Marketer of the Year.


STEPABLES is represented by Jan I. Berlage of Gohn Hankey Stichel & Berlage LLP, Baltimore, MD (410.752.9300), and Michael Dell Long of Long Law PDX, Portland, OR (503.804.0480).



Frances White

Under A Foot Plant Company

4742 Liberty Rd. S. #326

Salem, OR 97302

(503) 581-8915


Notes to Reporters / Editors:

  • See accompany attachments for the 23 photos included in this noteworthy case. Photos arranged in smaller selections of four or individual high-resolution images pertaining to this press release are available for articles, newsletters etc. by directly contacting Under A Foot Plant Company. 
  • Thank you!







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For information regarding press releases, press kits, seminars, TV or radio appearances:

Please contact:
Frances White
Email :

Under A Foot Plant Company

4748 Liberty Rd. S. #326
Salem Oregon 97302
Ph 503 581-8915





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4742 Liberty Rd. S #326
Salem, OR 97302-5000
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