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US Copyright Office Refuses to Protect the European Championship Trophy

November 8, 2018


The US Copyright Office has refused to grant protection to the Union of European Football Association’s (“UEFA”) Henri Delaunay Trophy (the “Trophy”). The Trophy is a silver two-handled vase, with a tiered pedestal foot, bulb-shaped body, long neck and a three-tiered lip. The Trophy is awarded to the winner of the European Championship.

In 2016, UEFA filed an application with the US Copyright Office to register a three-dimensional visual art claim for the Trophy. The US Copyright Office refused the application, stating it “lacks the authorship necessary to support a copyright claim.”

UEFA asked the US Copyright Office to reconsider their decision. However, the US Copyright Office denied the application stating that the trophy did not exhibit the creativity required to support a registration. Specifically, the Copyright Office stated that the Trophy “as a whole consists of a standard trophy vase accented with a few bands and twisted handles” and that “[t]he very simple combination of elements into an expected configuration given the underlying nature of the work does not exhibit the creativity to support a registration.”

The Review Board of the United States Copyright Office (the “Board”) then considered a second request for reconsideration on behalf of UEFA. UEFA disputed the Copyright Office’s claim that the Trophy was a standard vase, arguing that the body, wide tray opening and the twisted handles were indicative of its creativity. After review, the Board affirmed the prior decision to deny registration as the Trophy does not contain the “requisite authorship necessary to sustain a claim to copyright.” Despite UEFA claiming that the Trophy is not a standard trophy vase, the Board disagreed and noted that “[r]egardless of the specific history of trophy vases, the overall shape of the work shares common design features with amphora, a standard shape in Greek and Etruscan pottery.”

As the decision by the Board was in response to a second request for reconsideration, the decision constitutes final agency action in the matter.

Author: Steve Inglis


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