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Pickett v. Prince

207 F.3d 402 (2000)

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Pickett v. Prince

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

207 F.3d 402 (2000)

Facts

The famous musician Prince (defendant) had since 1992 referred to himself by an unpronounceable symbol. Prince obtained a trademark and later, by assignment, a copyright in the symbol. Ferdinand Pickett (plaintiff) made a guitar in the shape of the symbol without Prince’s authorization or license. Shortly afterwards, Prince appeared in public performing with a guitar similar to Pickett’s. Pickett brought suit against Prince for copyright infringement. Pickett claimed that although he unlawfully copied Prince’s symbol to create a guitar in that shape, he nevertheless contributed original work of authorship in creating the guitar. Pickett argued that Prince violated his copyright in the original elements he contributed to the underlying copyrighted symbol. The district court dismissed Pickett’s claim on the ground that he had no right to make a derivative work based on the symbol without Prince’s authorization. Pickett appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Posner, C.J.)

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