Stein and other partners in a lamp business (Stein) (plaintiffs) created several original sculptures shaped in the form of human figures. The sculptures were used to produce casts that would allow Stein to mass produce copies of the sculptures, which were then sold as either fully configured lamp bases or statuettes. After sales of the mass-produced copies commenced, Stein registered the sculptures with the Copyright Office as works of art. The sculptures submitted for registration did not include any lamp components. Mazer and other partners in a competing lamp business (Mazer) (defendants) obtained a few of the statuettes and copied the design for their own products, and Stein brought a suit for copyright infringement. Mazer argued that Stein's copyright was invalid because artistic works intended to be mass produced for use in utilitarian products were not entitled to copyright protection. The district court dismissed Stein's suit, holding that the copyright was invalid. The court of appeals reversed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.