It is well established that utilitarian or useful articles, such as dresses or the functional components of dresses, are not the proper subjects of copyright registration and protection.  However, decorative patterns, lace and fabric designs incorporated into dresses “are considered ‘writings’ for purposes of copyright law and are accordingly protectible.”  See Eve of Milady v. Impression Bridal, Inc., 957 F.Supp. 484, 489 (S.D.N.Y. 1997) (citing Knitwaves, Inc. v. Lollytogs Ltd, 71 F.3d 996, 1002 (2d Cir. 1995); Folio Impressions, Inc. v. Byer California, 937 F.2d 759, 763 (2d Cir.1991)).  Moreover, The level of originality and creativity in fabric designs that must be shown is minimal, only an “unmistakable dash of originality need be demonstrated, high standards of uniqueness in creativity are dispensed with.” Folio Impressions, 937 F.2d at 765 (citing Weissmann v. Freeman, 868 F.2d 1313, 1321 (2d Cir. 1989); Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 U.S. 340 (1991)).

In Folio Impressions, a fabric designer cut out photocopies of roses, arranged them in a pattern and then photocopied that pattern against a background.  Folio Impressions, 937 F.2d at 764.  That design was then registered with the copyright office as “Pattern # 1365.”  Id.  The Folio Impressions court aptly addressed defendant’s arguments based upon the utilitarianism and lack of originality of the fabric design:

The arrangement of the roses over the background portion of Pattern # 1365, while perhaps elementally symmetrical, does not appear to be designed to ease manufacture since, once the decision as to how to place the item against the background was made and executed, the whole piece was copied mechanically. Thus, it did not matter for manufacturing purposes of what the original design consisted. Rather, Sadjan’s decision to place the roses in straight rows was an artistic decision. Further, there is no evidence that Sadjan copied the placement of the roses from any source. Consequently, the district court’s finding that the particular arrangement given the Folio Rose in Pattern # 1365 was not original was clearly erroneous. Although the arrangement may have required little creative input, it was still Sadjan’s original work and, as such, copyrightable.

Id. at 765.

Thus, while dresses clearly constitute utilitarian or useful articles, decorative patterns, lace and fabric designs incorporated into dresses are the proper subjects of copyright registration and protection.