‘Copyright Law and the Utility of Style’

Christopher Buccafusco and Jeanne C Fromer, Fashion’s Function in Intellectual Property Law, 93 Notre Dame Law Review (forthcoming 2017), available at SSRN. Copyright is meant to protect artistic and literary works (books, paintings, sculptures, poems, songs, etc) against copying. Copyright is not, however, meant to protect useful things – that is the job of patent law. A lot of useful things, however, are also pretty (and the other way around). Think about attractive kitchen appliances, or apparel, or furniture, or dining utensils, or indeed just about any artifact of industrial design. A well-designed ladies’ dress can keep its wearer warm, but most consumers probably value it primarily for its style. Does copyright protect the design of the dress? Or does the dress’s utility rule it out of copyright? … (more)

[Christopher J Sprigman, JOTWELL, 7 September]

First posted 2017-09-08 13:27:33

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