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When selling a product, the packaging is generally the first impression the customer has of the item. In order to stand out in a sea of competitors, businesses spend a lot of effort and money developing distinctive and appealing package designs. 

This begs the issue, can packaging be protected by copyright? This article aims to clarify the murky intersection between package design and intellectual property law.

The Basics of Copyright Laws

Original creative works preserved on physical media are afforded a special type of intellectual property protection known as copyright. Copyright has historically been connected to forms of creative expression, including music, literature, and the visual arts. 

However, it goes beyond these typical areas to encompass things like architectural plans and computer code.

Copyright Protection Requirements

The “originality” criterion is one of the standards that a piece of work must meet in order to be eligible for copyright protection. To be considered original, a piece of art must be wholly unique and exhibit high levels of creativity or expression. 

Copyright does not cover improvements to the work that improve its usability or functionality. A copyright would not be able to safeguard the container’s essential form if it were created for no other reason than its intended function, for instance.

Package Layout And Intellectual Property

The art of packaging is unique since it blends aesthetic and practical considerations. Copyright may be granted for the visual aspects of packaging, but the functional elements, such as size, shape, and material, rarely meet the originality requirement and are better protected under other forms of intellectual property, such as design patents or trade dress.

Elements of Beauty

Graphics, logos, images, and even color schemes used in packaging design might be considered works of art that could be protected by copyright. These components can be appreciated as art in their own right, apart from the packaging’s practical purpose. 

However, it is necessary to prove that the design is more than just functional in order to warrant copyright protection.

Separation Of Ideas

Courts frequently apply a two-part test known as the “useful article” doctrine to evaluate if the aesthetic parts of package design are conceptually distinct from the functional features. 

This principle asks if the aesthetic qualities of a design can stand on their own as an artwork and if they would be easily recognizable if applied to a different type of practical item. This standard determines whether or not the design is worthy of copyright protection.

Constraints and Difficulties

While it is possible to copyright a package’s design, doing so presents several obstacles. The general form, dimensions, or container design essential to the packaging’s function are not protected by copyright law. 

Further, as long as they don’t steal the protected intellectual components outright, others are free to make identical package designs.

Benefits Of Having A Copyright

Copyrighting your creative work has many practical and legal benefits, some of which are given below:

Legal Protection

Copyright protection gives you exclusive control over how your work is used, reproduced, distributed, performed, and exhibited. You can sue copyright violators.

Economic Control

Copyright allows you to sell your creative work. With exclusive reproduction and distribution rights, you can license, sell, or distribute your work. This economic management lets you profit from your innovation.

Recognition And Attribution

Copyright protection guarantees authorship. It protects your reputation by establishing ownership and authorship. Copyright may lead to future possibilities and cooperation.

Market Advantage

Copyrighted works’ uniqueness and legal protection make them marketable. Copyrights protect your work from copycats, giving you an edge. It keeps your creations unique and desirable to consumers.

Licensing Opportunities

Copyright owners can license their work to others under certain circumstances. Licensing allows you to make money by letting others reproduce, distribute, or perform your copyrighted work.

Moral Rights

Copyright protects moral rights, not economic rights. Moral rights let you defend your work’s honor. They protect your work against distortion, modification, or misrepresentation.

Preserving Legacy

Copyright preserves your creative heritage. It lets you choose how your work is utilized and preserves its respect and attribution beyond your death. Copyright protection preserves your cultural legacy.

It provides legal protection, economic control, recognition, commercial advantage, licensing options, moral rights, international protection, and the preservation of creative legacy. These advantages encourage and reward creativity, promoting a creative ecology.


Whether or not packaging may be protected by intellectual property rights depends on its individual components. While the package itself may not be protected by copyright due to its practical nature, the creative choices made in its design may be. 

If a business wants to protect its package designs, it should look into copyright for the creative parts and other kinds of IP (such as design patents or trade dress) for the practical parts. 

To successfully manage the complexity of package design and intellectual property rights in today’s ever-changing legal landscape, firms should seek advice from legal specialists versed in the subtleties of both copyright and design protection.