Compendium of U.S. Copyright Practices, 3rd Edition

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908.1 What Is Jewelry?


908.1 What Is Jewelry?


A jewelry design is a decorative article that may be worn as a personal adornment, regardless of whether it is hung, pinned, or clipped onto the body (such as necklaces, bangles, or earrings) or pinned, clipped, or sewn onto clothing (such as brooches, pins, or beaded motifs).


Ornamental jewelry designs are considered works of artistic craftsmanship. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.8 (A) (1948) (citing “artistic jewelry” as an example of a work of artistic craftsmanship); H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 54-55 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N at 5667-68 (noting that this part of the statutory definition is based on “Copyright Office regulations promulgated in the 1940’s”).


When reviewing jewelry, the U.S. Copyright Office will consider the overall form of the design, but will ignore any mechanical or utilitarian aspects of the work. For example, a jeweled dragonfly could be registered as a work of artistic craftsmanship if it contains a sufficient amount of sculptural authorship. The registration may cover the shape, color, orientation, or other creative aspects of the design, but it would not extend to its functional elements, such as a plain hook or clasp.


Jewelry designs and other embellishments that are incorporated into useful articles, such as garments, footwear, belt buckles, or other personal accessories may be registered only if the design is capable of being identified separately from and existing independently of the utilitarian aspects of the useful article. When evaluating jewelry designs incorporated into useful articles, the Office will apply the separability test set forth in Section 924.3 and then determine if the separable design contains a sufficient amount of creative expression. For a detailed discussion of the differences between a work of artistic craftsmanship and the design of a useful article, see Section 925.3.


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