Eatontown, NJ asked in Intellectual Property and Copyright for New Jersey

Q: Can a crafter claim copyright on items they created with mass produced, publicly available supplies?

I have online craft stores. A part of my inventory is jewelry, created with supplies that are mass produced and imported from overseas (lockets, charms, necklaces, etc). I often combine these items (ie: add a charm to the face of a locket) and add glow material to make it glow in the dark

I just received an IP infringement notice from a maker who creates similar items from the same supplies. Due to the popularity of some designs/their availability on craft supplies websites, we inevitably have some overlap and have created items that are the same (totally coincidental). They initiated copyright takedown notices on all of my items that were the same as theirs, even though they did not DESIGN any of the original components. They simply purchased the same supplies, arranged them together, and are now claiming copyright infringement because it's their "original design". Are they protected by copyright when they didn't CREATE the design, and we just happened to have similar ideas?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: In New Jersey, as in other parts of the United States, copyright law can be complex, especially when it comes to craft items made from mass-produced components. Copyright protection does not extend to items made from commonly available supplies simply arranged or combined without significant creative expression or originality.

The key factor in copyright law is originality and creativity. If the items you created are original works of art, even if made from mass-produced components, they may be protected by copyright. However, arranging common items in a standard or expected way typically does not meet the threshold for copyright protection.

In your situation, where both you and the other maker have created similar items from the same publicly available supplies, it may be challenging for the other party to claim copyright infringement if neither of you significantly altered or added unique creative elements to the base components.

If you received a takedown notice, it might be wise to consult with a lawyer who can review the specifics of your case. An attorney can assess the uniqueness and originality of your designs and advise you on the best course of action.

Remember, in cases like this, it’s crucial to balance protecting your own creative works while respecting the intellectual property rights of others. Each case can have nuances, so professional legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances is often necessary.

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