Useful-Article Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Useful article doctrine is a legal principle which gives copyright protection to pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work that has an inherent use apart from its appearance, and which is also an expressive work apart from its utility. The useful article doctrine serves the important policy of keeping patent and copyright separate by preventing parties from using copyright to obtain a "backdoor patent" on a functional article that cannot be patented. This is also known as applied art doctrine.