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Pivot Point Int'l, Inc. v. Charlene Prods. - 372 F.3d 913 (7th Cir. 2004)

Rule:

The protection of the copyright statute can be secured when a conceptual separability exists between the material sought to be copyrighted and the utilitarian design in which that material is incorporated. The difficulty lies not in the acceptance of that proposition, which the statutory language clearly contemplates, but in its application.

Facts:

Plaintiff brought a copyright infringement suit against defendant after it produced a mannequin that was very close in appearance to its mannequin. Plaintiff developed and marketed educational techniques and tools for the hair design industry. One aspect of its business was the design and development of mannequin heads. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant. Plaintiff appealed.

Issue:

Was plaintiff’s mannequin subject to copyright protection?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court concluded that the mannequin was subject to protection. It was not difficult to conceptualize a human fact, independent of all of the mannequin's specific facial features (the shape of the eye, the upturned nose, the angular cheek and jaw structure) that would serve the utilitarian functions of a hair stand and make-up model. Plaintiff's mannequin was the product of a creative process unfettered by functional concerns, its sculptural features could be identified separately from, and were capable of existing independently of, its utilitarian aspects.

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