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Morrissey v. Proctor & Gamble

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Citation Edit

Morrissey v. Procter & Gamble Co., 379 F.2d 675, 154 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 193 (1st Cir. 1967) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

The plaintiff had created a set of contest rules. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant infringed on its copyright by copying, almost precisely, rule 1 of its contest rules. The defendant denied that plaintiff's rule 1 was copyrightable material, and also denied that it had access to the plaintiff's copyrighted work.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

The court established the principle that where a work was so simple and so straightforward as to leave available only a limited number of forms of expression of the substance of the subject matter, the expression would be uncopyrightable.

In holding the work uncopyrightable, the court reasoned that:

to permit copyrighting would mean that a party or parties by copyrighting a mere handful of forms, could exhaust all possibilities of future use of the substance. In such circumstances it does not seem accurate to say that any particular form of expression comes from the subject matter. However, it is necessary to say that the subject matter would be appropriated by permitting the copyrighting of its expression. We cannot recognize copyright as a game of chess in which the public can be checkmated.[1]

References Edit

  1. 379 F.2d at 678-79.

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