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IP protection of all that glitters

It can be easy to casually overlook the hard work, artistry and creative originality that makes jewelry beautiful, desirable and marketable. We sometimes admire a dazzling piece on a friend’s finger or neck and get caught up in the gleam of precious gems or lustrous metals.

For jewelry designers and makers, however, the protection of intellectual property under copyright and trademark law is a critical part of retaining ownership of not only designs but also works derived from their original pieces.

A recent article on jewelry design looked at how copyrights can be used to protect IP in the glittering world of diamonds, gold, silver, pearls and more.

The article points out that the copyright protection threshold for jewelry design is a clear one: originality. “To qualify for copyright protection, a piece of jewelry must be an author’s original expression and possess a minimum level of creativity,” the article stated.

For some designers, formal registration of a work with the Copyright Office creates a public record of creation, title and owner’s name. The copyright holder will then be able to pursue remedies for infringement of protected work.

The remedies can include all profits derived from the infringement, as well as attorney fees and court costs and much more. Of course, holding a copyright on a piece of jewelry or design does not automatically mean that those remedies will be available.

Defendants in copyright litigation can argue that the copyright is invalid. For instance, a jewelry design might involve elements of nature (flowers, cactus, insects, etc.) that cannot be copyrighted. Other defenses: the alleged infringer had no knowledge of the plaintiff’s creation or that the defendant had permission to use a particular copyright-protected design.

If you are accused of infringing on a copyright, contact a San Diego law firm experienced in protecting