There’s a nice analysis in the New York Law Journal about intellectual property protection of the “look and feel” of a website:
Protectable trade dress under the Lanham Act can include a wide range of product design and packaging features: the color and shape of pill capsules; the look of a greeting card line; the layout of magazine covers and briefcases; commercial kiosk designs; sales techniques; the distinctive decor of a restaurant; and the colorful, tropical depictions on liquor bottles. Separate from a trademark, trade dress involves the total image of a product and the overall impression created that allows consumers to distinguish among competing producers.
In recent years, a growing debate has emerged over whether the overall “look and feel” of a website can be protected. To be sure, online content, videos, and other media are copyrightable, but the law remains unsettled when it comes to using trademark law to protect a site’s distinctive interface and design elements.
This article discusses trade dress generally, the issue of copyright preemption, and recent decisions that have wrestled with the issue of website trade dress infringement.
Click here for the article.