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A factual compilation is eligible for copyright if it features an original selection or arrangement of facts, but the copyright is limited to the particular selection or arrangement. In no event may copyright extend to the facts themselves. Original, as the term is used in copyright, means only that the work was independently created by the author (as opposed to copied from other works), and that it possesses at least some minimal degree of creativity.
Plaintiff George Kregos created a baseball pitching form and registered it with the Copyright Office. Defendants Associated Press ("AP") and Sports Features Syndicate, Inc. ("Sports Features") published an identical form but later modified it. Plaintiff sued for copyright and trademark infringement. The lower court granted summary judgment to defendants, holding that plaintiff lacked a copyrightable interest in his pitching form on three grounds. First, the court concluded that plaintiff’s pitching form was insufficiently original in its selection of statistics to warrant a copyright as a compilation. Second, the court held that, in view of the limited space available for displaying pitching forms in newspapers, the possible variations in selections of pitching statistics were so limited that the idea of a pitching form had merged into its expression. Third, the court ruled that plaintiff’s pitching form was not entitled to a copyright because of the so-called "blank form" doctrine. On the trademark side of the case, the court granted summary judgment for the defendants on the ground that plaintiff’s trademark claims encountered, as a matter of law, a functionality defense.
The court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's trademark claims but reversed the dismissal of the copyright claims. According to the court, compilations were copyrightable if they featured the original selection or arrangement of facts. Plaintiff's selection of categories of statistics displayed sufficient creativity to satisfy the originality requirement such that summary judgment was improper under the idea/expression and blank form doctrines. Variations in the available data indicated a sufficient number of ways of expressing the idea of rating pitchers' performances such that the idea did not merge into its expression. Finally, the court held that plaintiff's allegations that defendants' copyright notice was false, without more, did not convert the copyright claims into violations of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.S. § 1125, such that rejection of the trademark claims was proper.