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

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920.1 Patterns for Making Articles


920.1 Patterns for Making Articles


The drawings and text in a pattern book may be copyrightable, if they are sufficiently original. This may include textual instructions, technical diagrams that demonstrate cutting, stitching, weaving, or other techniques required by the pattern, as well as illustrations of the completed items.


Pattern books are not considered useful articles for purposes of registration, because typically their only utilitarian function is to convey information. 17 U.S.C. § 101 (definition of “useful article”). But as a general rule, a registration for a pattern book does not extend to individual pattern pieces that may be used to create a useful article, such as shapes that may be traced and used to make a sleeve for a dress, because the pieces themselves are also useful articles that rarely contain any separable, copyrightable authorship. See 17 U.S.C. § 113 (B). For similar reasons, the registration does not extend to any useful article that may be created with the pattern, such as an item of clothing. For a general discussion of useful articles, see Section 924.


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