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Kieselstein-Cord v. Accessories by Pearl, Inc - 632 F.2d 989

Rule:

Pieces of applied art, even while attached to a utilitarian object, may be considered jewelry, the form of which is subject to copyright protection.

Facts:

Appellant filed a suit for copyright infringement against appellee for copying his belt buckle designs and selling cheaper imitations to consumers. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the appellee. Appellant sought review.

Issue:

Are belt buckles subject to copyright protection?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court noted that while utilitarian objects such as belt buckles could not be copyrighted, elements thereof that were physically or conceptually separable and that were capable of existing independent of the article's utilitarian aspect could be copyrighted. Appellant's belt buckles contained conceptually separable sculptural elements used as ornamentation; the buckles' ornamental aspect was conceptually separable from their subsidiary utilitarian function and was thus subject to copyright protection.

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