Yesterday while scrolling through my Instagram feed, I found a post where another jewelry artist claimed to have created this necklace that is an EXACT duplicate of one of my designs.
I know that while extremely unlikely, it is technically possible for two (or more) artists to create SUPER similar things without any awareness of the other person’s work… I mean, gemstone beads on a chain? Just about every jewelry-maker out there has made some version of beads on a chain.
The problem here is that there’s little to no chance that another artist would have come up with the exact combination of gemstones, in the exact same order, on the exact same style of chain as this necklace of mine.
So I spent a good deal of the day trying to figure out what, if anything, I could do.
According to US copyright law, I do have some legal rights.
Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works. (Published, in terms of jewelry-making, meaning that if you offer your jewelry for sale to the public, or even give it away, you have “published” it for purposes of copyright law.)
Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Jewelry falls into the “artistic works” category for purposes of copyright law.
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created. You will have to register your designs with the US Copyright Office, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.
There are some exceptions to jewelry-related copyright protection. You can’t copyright mere variations on a common or standardized design or familiar symbol, designs made up of only commonplace design elements arranged in a common or obvious manner, or any of the mechanical or utilitarian aspects of the jewelry. (That means stuff like solitaire rings, simple diamond stud earrings, plain bangle bracelets, simple hoop earrings, or other commonly used designs, settings, or gemstone cuts wouldn’t be protected.)
First, let me say that this blog post in no way should be taken as legal counsel. If you think you are the victim of copyright infringement, you should absolutely discuss your situation with an actual Intellectual Property/Copyright lawyer.
As for me and this particular instance, I’m going to contact this artist and request that she remove immediately stop copying my designs and remove all images of infringed designs from any/all social media or sales platforms where it has been posted.
If she ignores my request, I already know an IP laywer.
Items created and sold under the Jstar Jewelry Designs brand are protected by copyright law as much as applicable.
Anyone who exactly duplicates any of my work without my consent is committing copyright infringement.
All instances of infringement will be pursued.
In summary, it’s one thing to use another artist’s design as inspiration and quite another thing to create an EXACT duplicate. Be respectful and do your own thing.