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US Copyright Office denies luxury placemat protection | |

US Copyright Office denies luxury placemat protection |

The US Copyright Office has denied attempts by placemat company Benson Mills to protect a two-dimensional placemat after numerous applications.

Benson Mills had sought copyright protection for its two-dimensional artwork titled ‘Bellagio Pressed Vinyl Placemat’. A similar request was rejected by the US Copyright Office in June 2017.

The placemat is a golden circle with concentric rows of U-shaped holes covering the entire piece. The size of the U-shapes decreases as the rows approach the centre of the mat.

The registration specialist presiding over Benson’s 2017 application concluded that the artwork “does not contain any non-useful design element that could be copyrighted and registered”.

Benson challenged the refusal, arguing that the work contains “more than the very minimal level of creativity required to meet the threshold requirement of originality under the Copyright Act”.

The Copyright Office refuted the refusal challenge, stating that the U-shapes used in the design “are a common and familiar shape”.

Following a second request from Benson Mills, the Copyright Office has again rejected protection applications for the placemat, as the product “fails to satisfy the requirement of creative authorship”.

Benson had argued that its placemat “does not function as a placemat” because “the sole function of a placemat is to protect a surface” and “the punched out markings take away from that protective function.” The Office took issue with this claim, stating that this puts it at odds with the title of the work.

The office argued that while the holes in the placemat undoubtedly affect the utility of the placemat to protect a surface from food or beverage, the placemat “retains its intrinsic utilitarian function to provide a protective barrier between a table surface and dinnerware”.

The Copyright Office’s review concluded that a minimal combination of U-shapes in a standard symmetrical, concentric arrangement “lacks the modicum of creativity required”.

Category: Dinnerware  Tags: ,  Comments off
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