Citing Star Athletica, Court Says Lights Can Be Copyrighted

Law360, New York (August 29, 2017, 6:58 PM EDT) -- Relying on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on cheerleading uniforms, a New York federal judge ruled Monday that decorative lights could be protected by copyright law.

In a case filed against retailer Big Lots by a Hong Kong home goods manufacturer called Jetmax Ltd., the judge ruled that decorative elements on Jetmax’s “tear shaped covered lights” were “separable” enough from the underlying utilitarian lamp to be covered by copyright.

“The court determines that under the Supreme Court’s recent decision … the tear drop light set contains artistic elements that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently...

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