Friday, March 24, 2017

Supreme Court Finds Cheerleader Uniform Designs Copyrightable

Last fall, we examined the case of Star Athletica, L.L.C.  v. Varsity Brands, Inc., then pending before the Supreme Court on the question of whether the design of a cheerleader uniform is copyrightable subject matter, or if it is a useful article.  In a 6-2 decision, the majority laid out a new test for analyzing the separability of designs applied to useful articles, and further found that the cheerleader uniform designs at issue in this case were protectable works under that test.  This decision grants expansive rights to authors who apply designs to utilitarian objects, but as we will see below, the new test is far from free of ambiguity.