The Trademark Reporter®
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November–December, 2017 Vol. 107 No. 6 Back to TMR Main Page
Commentary: Cartwheeling Through Copyright Law: “Star Athletica, L.L.C. V. Varsity Brands, Inc.”: The Supreme Court Leaves as Many Open Questions as It Provides Answers About the Viability and Scope of Copyright Protection for Fashion Designs
Copyright protection for fashion under U.S. law has faced a difficult and complicated road. In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court took up a case—Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc.—that affected how copyright law applies to apparel and other types of “useful articles.” The Court’s broad holding on copyrightability does not necessarily provide broad protections for copyright owners; rather, it shifts the central inquiries involved in infringement cases involving useful articles, potentially leading to new questions and challenges for parties and the courts in defining the contours of copyright law in the fashion industry and beyond.