Can a company claim infringement if someone copied their organizational scheme?


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For example, if an Amazon competitor had the exact same product categories, or if a Craigslist competitor had the exact same categories...I'm mostly talking about how you categorize what you're selling.

Is that "trademarkable"? Can you be accused of infringing by using someone else's scheme?

Legal Copyright Trademark

asked Aug 20 '13 at 16:08
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Aerovistae
115 points

1 Answer


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The copyright protection concerns only "original" creations. A list of categories or products is not an original creation.

As far as it is a "logical" classifying that follows some comment sense, it can't be trademarked and it can be reproduced.

(if it is really original classifying or if it derives completely from the common sense, than it can be considered as "original creation" and thus protected by copyright - but that is IMHO a very rare/unique case - certainly not the Amazon product categories listing)

More about the copyright's scope: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright#Scope

answered Aug 20 '13 at 18:49
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Data Smarter
1,274 points
  • What do you mean by "if it derives completely from the common sense"? This seems intuitively contradictory-- isn't a list of categories something derived from common sense? – Aerovistae 7 years ago
  • Of course, usualy it is! I just explained in which case it would be protected by copyright laws. You never know, maybe there will be some "artist" or some "visionary" sorting the articles by the last letter of their name... But in normal situation, it is indeed derived from common sense and thus can't be trademarked. – Data Smarter 7 years ago

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Legal Copyright Trademark