Intellectual property lawyers: What cannot be copyrighted?

David MillerHi everyone, my name is David Miller. I run our business law department here at Amazon Sellers Lawyer, also known as the law firm of Rosenbaum Famularo, PC.

Recently, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about copyright complaints… What’s copyrightable, what is not?

So I wanted to go through a short list of some material that is NOT copyrightable:

  1. Now the first thing on my list is ideas, methods, or systems.
    If you’re referring to just an idea or a method, it is not copyrightable. A classic example is an invention. The reason why an invention is not copyrightable is because another form of intellectual property protects inventions and that is called patents.
  2. The second thing on my list is names, titles, and short phrases.
    Obvious reasons anyone uses a name or a short phrase, for example, there’s no copyright protection. I can’t copyright my name, my name is David. I can’t copyright someone else’s name or a short phrase like, Been there, done that.”
  3. Third, fonts and lettering.
    So if you create a new font, generally, not copyrightable material. Blank forms, any sort of form, not copyrightable.
  4. And lastly, familiar signs and designs.
    So, a shape, for example, a circle, square, any sort of sign that you see all the time, like a stop sign, not copyrightable material.

This is a short list, it’s not exhaustive, there’s always a lot of gray area with copyright. Call us if you have questions about your specific situation: 1-877-9-SELLER.