When presented with copyright claims as to seemingly ambiguous subject matters, courts and the Copyright Office have developed several different responses. The most common has been a layering or segmentation approach under which courts treat some aspects of an intellectual creation as protectable by copyright law, while other aspects may be protectable, if at all, by utility patents. But five other strategies for determining copyright and utility patent boundaries are evident in the literature, each of which has sought to preserve separate and distinct domains for copyright and utility patent protections.
Strategies for Discerning the Boundaries of Copyright and Patent Protections,
Notre Dame L. Rev.
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