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906.6 Blank Forms

906.6 Blank Forms


The U.S. Copyright Office will not register blank forms, which are solely designed for recording information and do not convey information, regardless of how they are described in an application. 37 C.F.R. § 202.1 (C). Examples of blank forms include time cards, graph paper, account books, diaries, bank checks, scorecards, address books, report forms, order forms, and vouchers. Id.


Blank forms are not copyrightable because they merely reflect and implement underlying procedures, processes, systems, methods, concepts, or principles. 17 U.S.C. § 102 (B); Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99 (1879). Likewise, the Office will refuse to register claims based solely on the arrangement, spacing, or juxtaposition of standard text on a blank form. Registration of Claims to Copyright; Notice of Termination of Inquiry Regarding Blank Forms, 45 Fed. Reg. 63,297 (Sept. 24, 1980). However, a registration specialist may register literary or visual arts content that has been added to a blank form if it is copyrightable, such as artwork that decorates the form or literary elements that describe or explain how to complete the form. See id. at 63,298.


Examples:


• Brenda Bland creates a color-coded daily journal. The journal includes six columns with typical headings and multiple colors to aid the user in organizing content. The registration specialist will refuse to register this journal because it is a blank form that does not contain a sufficient amount of literary or pictorial authorship to support a registration.


• Bernice Brown creates a daily diary that includes six columns with typical headings and graphic artwork along the border of each page. The registration specialist will refuse to register the columns and headings because it is merely a blank form, but may register the decorative border if it is sufficiently creative.


• Blythe Burn files an application to register a “graphic aid for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.” The deposit copy consists of a blank form for recording patient data. The form contains eight boxes with various questions that are intended to identify symptoms of this disease. The registration specialist will refuse the claim in “graphic aid” and may refer the claim to the Literary Division to determine whether the textual authorship supports a claim in a literary work.

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