Copyright Compendium

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313.4 (E) Measuring and Computing Devices

313.4 (E) Measuring and Computing Devices

The U.S. Copyright Office cannot register devices that are designed for computing or measuring or other useful articles in and of themselves. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.1 (D).

Examples of such devices include, without limitation, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, calculators, scales, and thermometers.

Although measuring and computing devices are not copyrightable, the Office may register pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that have been applied to a device, but only if those features are separable from the article. For example, a drawing that appears on the surface of a height and weight chart or a fanciful graphic that appears on the surface of a thermometer may be registered if the pictorial or graphic feature can be perceived as a two-dimensional “work of art separate from the useful article” and would qualify as a protectable pictorial or graphic work “if it were imagined separately from the useful article into which it is incorporated.” Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., 137 S. Ct. 1002, 1007 (2017).

For a general discussion of useful articles, see Chapter 900, Section 924.

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