Although available in various designs and colors, the shape of a hookah’s water container is not copyrightable, according to a federal appeals court.
In a case between two suppliers of hookahs, or water pipes, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit disputed the claim of San Diego’s Inhale Inc. that competitor Starbuzz Tobacco of Anaheim, Calif., had infringed on its 2011 copyright. The panel held that the sculptural features of a hookah’s water container, a “useful article” under the U.S. Copyright Act, are not entitled to copyright protection. The Ninth Circuit also upheld $111,993 in attorney fees to Starbuzz.
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