Designs for useful articles such as vehicular bodies, wearing apparel, household appliances, and the like are not protected by copyright. However, the design of a useful article is subject to copyright protection to the degree that its pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features can be identified as existing independently of the utilitarian object in which they are embodied.
The line between uncopyrightable works of industrial design and copyrightable works of applied art is not always clear. A two-dimensional painting, drawing, or other graphic work is still identifiable when it is printed on or applied to useful articles such as textile fabrics, wallpaper, containers, and the like. On the other hand, although the shape of an industrial product may be aesthetically satisfying and valuable, the copyright law does not afford it protection. The designs of some useful objects may be entitled to protection under design patent law administered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Write to Commissioner for Patents and Trademarks, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, P. O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450 or call the Patent and Trademark help line at (800) 786-9199 or (571) 272-1000 (tty: (571) 272- 9950). For the Trademark Assistance Center, call (800) 786-9199 or (571) 272-9250. Information is available at www.uspto.gov.
Designs separately identifiable from useful articles may be registered.
FL-103, Revised May 2009